A lot has been made of the mom power at this year's US Open. With Serena Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova and Victoria Azarenka all stealing the spotlight by reaching the quarterfinals, one mom has been overlooked: Vera Zvonareva.

The Russian left the game in 2015, welcomed her daughter Evelina in 2016, and is now into the US Open doubles final with Laura Siegemund.

"I was never planning to come back because I had too many injuries," the 36-year-old says. "So I had to stop my career. And then [I had my] family, and I never thought I would be playing again. But then I started training a little bit for myself, starting getting in shape. And I thought, well, I'll play a small tournament, and then it turned out well for me. I thought, why not?"

Why not, indeed. During her brief retirement, the former world No. 2 had been working toward a Master's Degree in political science and was dabbling in commentating for Eurosport.


A two-time Grand Slam singles finalist (Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010), she would pick her career back up at the ITF level, winning a W15 tournament in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in 2017. Later that year, she'd reach the second round of the US Open, a semifinal in Tashkent and a final of a WTA 125K, solidifying her decision to try it all again.

Traveling with a young child has had it's challenges, though her daughter isn't in New York.

"There are some moments when you want to go back to your room, just relax and lay on the couch and watch a movie at the end of the tough day," Zvonareva says. "And there is my daughter, who is jumping like crazy on the bed, and like, 'Mommy, you can't sit, you can't lay down. You have to play with me for the next three hours.'"

Mom Zvonareva 
to play for US Open
doubles crown

Mom Zvonareva to play for US Open doubles crown

Carmen Mandato/USTA

The wave of mothers taking over the US Open have children roughly the same age with Evelina and Leo born in 2016, Olympia in 2017 and Alexander in 2018. It's a testament to the women's strength but also to the modern era.

"I think women are thinking about their careers a little bit more than before," Zvonareva say. "Before if you felt like, OK, you have to start a family at 25, but now you're feeling OK to start your family at 35, or still start a family, but then still continue with your career, and it's normal now."


Zvonareva has always been a dual threat: her singles return has taken her back up to No. 76, while her doubles career has led her to a current ranking of No. 86 with a huge jump guaranteed on Monday. She'd win her first title as a mom in 2018 with Timea Bacsinszky in St. Petersburg and follow it with another win in Moscow (with Anastasia Potapova). In 2019, she won Budapest with Ekaterina Alexandrova for her ninth career doubles crown.

Singles is still very much on her plate. Before the tour shutdown, the current world No. 178 appeared in the singles semifinals of the WTA 125K in Indian Wells. Quarantine in Moscow was extremely strict: for over two months they weren't allowed to leave the apartment.

"And it was not easy, I must tell you, because I had to cook breakfast, lunch, dinner for my husband and my daughter," Zvonareva says. "And husband wants one thing, daughter, another thing. And I don't want to eat that. I want to eat something else."

During the lengthy lockdown, while still grateful for the extra quality family time, she relished in her private gym sessions, which were three hours a day in a makeshift home gym. Her belief, patience and hard work has paid off as she'll contest for her second US Open doubles title on Friday, a whopping 14 years after winning it for the first time.