Doubles next for 41/2-months pregnant Minella

Pregnant Mandy Minella donning a loose-fitting dress during her Wimbledon first-round loss to Francesca Schiavone.
Pregnant Mandy Minella donning a loose-fitting dress during her Wimbledon first-round loss to Francesca Schiavone.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Luxembourg's Mandy Minella is playing at Wimbledon while 41/2 months pregnant as the 31-year-old prepares to join Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka as a tennis mum.

Minella lost 6-1, 6-1 to Italian Francesca Schiavone on Monday but she caught the eye with her loose-fitting dress covering a small bump.

"Wimbledon is my last tournament this season," Minella, whose baby is due at the of the year, told reporters.

The world No. 82 posted a picture on her Facebook account yesterday showing husband and coach Tim Sommer kneeling in front of her on a Wimbledon court, kissing her stomach.

She is also due to play women's doubles with Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova.

Former world No. 1 Azarenka only returned to the Tour last month after giving birth to son Leo in December and reached the second round of Wimbledon on Monday evening.

Defending champion Williams is expecting her first child in September and is sitting out the tournament this year.

However, the American was still getting in the Wimbledon groove on Monday - and she was nowhere near the London grasscourts.

As the first day's play got under way, she posted a video clip on Instagram of her pounding backhands on a claycourt despite being absent from the Tour since winning the Australian Open in January.

"Wimbledon got me like: Easy standing drills this morning. Go easy," the 35-year-old posted to her 6.1 million followers.

Williams not being at the grass-court Major is clearly a loss for some fans.

"I'm not even watching women's Wimbledon without you. I just won't be able to. Awaiting your comeback," a fan replied to the Instagram post.

For world No. 2 Simona Halep, Williams' absence is becoming normal.

"I'm not thinking about Serena when I go to the tournament now because she's missed, like, five, six months already," the Romanian told reporters after her first-round win over Marina Erakovic.

But for Venus Williams, the absence of her younger sister and doubles partner from the All England Club is acute.

"I miss her a lot. I think she misses me," the 37-year-old told reporters.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'Doubles next for 41/2-months pregnant Minella'. Print Edition | Subscribe