Lindsay Davenport has played in some big-time tennis matches, but she has been experiencing some really challenging times as a mother of two.
The balancing act is in full effect for the Laguna Beach resident this World Team Tennis season with the St. Louis Aces. That showed Thursday night when she was the marquee player for the St. Louis Aces against the Newport Beach Breakers at The Tennis Club Newport Beach.
Davenport, winner of three Grand Slam titles and a former world No. 1, played for the Breakers in 2003 and 2008. She made her return to Newport Beach Thursday night, but the visit wasn't all that comfortable.
"Some days you just want to pull your hair out," Davenport said during a pre-match press conference. "My son [Jagger] was just having the biggest tantrum I've ever seen here. I'm like, Oh, my God."
So what would be more difficult, being in a Grand Slam final or being a mother of two?
"At least a Grand Slam final you know there's an end in sight," Davenport said. "You have like 90 minutes and then you're done. But, yeah, it's been challenging absolutely. The two kids, [Jagger just turned 3 and Lauren just turned 1]. It's a handful as any parent would know. We're having a lot of fun with it."
It's easy to have fun with Jagger around for entertainment. These days, the little guy is Buzz Lightyear, wanting to go to infinity and beyond.
Mom is certainly pushing herself to the limits. She doesn't follow suit for most marquee players in the WTT. The stars usually play two or three matches and a few sets. Davenport has been sporting a blue-collar persona.
She agreed to play six matches for the Aces and she plays three sets a match.
"It's been a fun ride so far," Davenport said. "But it's a lot on me, playing three sets. I wasn't used to playing after the babies, but so far it's going OK."
Thursday night didn't go so well, with the Breakers beating the Aces, 16-14. However, Davenport won two of the three sets she played in. She teamed with Andrei Pavel to beat Newport Beach's David Martin and Marie-Eve Pelletier, 5-1, in mixed doubles, and she blanked Pelletier, 5-0, in women's singles. In that sense, it was comforting for Davenport to be so close to home. But it's not as if she's without family this season.
Her husband, Jon Leach, is an alternate on the Aces and her brother-in-law, Rick Leach, is the Aces' coach. Father-in-law Dick Leach is an assistant coach.
My husband is the alternate, which provides some unique funny times on the court," Davenport said. "I have the two brothers beating down on me about my play. It's been great. Especially when the days get tough, it's nice to have him around, the traveling and stuff. But really lucky that he was able to do it."
Davenport shared some of the spotlight against the Breakers. Billie Jean King, the tennis icon who is the co-founder of WTT and co-owner of the Breakers, was another big name at The Tennis Club. They were both there to headline, "Ladies Night."
With only a week left in the WTT regular season and three home matches completed, the Breakers had not competed with a marquee person at the event. They tried to make up for the lost time with two big names.
King didn't seem to want to take all of Davenport's spotlight. Davenport made herself available to the media during the press conference.
King just went and sat to watch the match. She wanted to see her team win.
The Breakers didn't let her down.
King plans to speak maybe next week when the Breakers close out the regular season with some familiar names.
Maria Sharapova will play for the Breakers Tuesday night.
John McEnroe, who plays for the New York Sportimes, will go up against Newport Beach in the Breakers' final regular-season home match Thursday night.