Caroline Wozniacki defeated qualifier Kimberly Birrell 6-2, 6-2 at the National Bank Open to kick off comeback to professional tennis
One could be forgiven if they missed the news that Caroline Wozniacki had in fact retired three years ago, because when the former World No. 1 stepped on court in Montreal for her first match since then – it looked like she hadn’t even missed a day of competing.
The Dane was effortlessly sharp in her first match since a third-round loss to Ons Jabeur at the 2020 Australian Open – her last professional match before retiring to start a family. Since then, Wozniacki has given birth to two (adorable) children, Olivia and James, alongside ex-NBA player David Lee, her husband since 2019.
Against qualifier Kimberly Birrell of Australia, she showed little signs of rust – except for perhaps the newer tournament customs, such as the towel boxes at both ends of the courts. The last time Wozniacki played, the world hadn’t gone through a global pandemic yet and she was used to ball kids handing her towels in between games to wipe down – and she caught herself a couple times forgetting to head to the back of the court to dry off.
Other than that, there were few unforced errors in Wozniacki’s comeback game, demonstrating the same speed and rally resiliency that saw her win the Australian Open and 29 other titles in a her hall-of-fame first career. Even the weather seemed to celebrate the former World No. 1’s comeback, with a ray of sunshine peeking through the clouds for the first time in days as she stepped to the baseline to open the match on serve.
It was smooth sailing for most of the one-hour, 37-minute contest. Though Birrell put up a strong effort to break the Wozniacki serve twice in the opening set, she struggled on her own delivery and was eventually worn down by her veteran opponent’s good-as-ever baseline play.
A particularly classic defensive point to break for 5-2 in the second set summarized not only the match itself, but exactly why Wozniacki has won so many fans over the years – and why the IGA Stadium crowd was so excited to have her back on court to kick off her second career in tennis.
“It feels pretty great – I won my first match back,” said Wozniacki, beaming after the match. “I love playing here in Montreal.”
And it’s mutual, Caroline!