4 February 2020
Motherhood helping Whiley regain perspective ahead of Tokyo
Jordanne Whiley is no stranger to Grand Slam success but she never expected to be straight back at the top just two years on from having her first child.
Returning to the court following the birth of her son Jackson in January 2018 was always something she hoped she would achieve, let alone win another Grand Slam title while he is still a toddler.
Whiley clinched her third women’s doubles title at the Australian Open alongside bridesmaid Yui Kamiji last week, beating Netherlands’s Diede De Groot and Aniek Van Koot 6-2 6-4 just days after Jackson’s second birthday.
Competing on the other side of the world to her first born is something Whiley is still getting used to but she knows it’s no coincidence that she’s leapt straight back to the top of her game.
If there’s any proof that motherhood doesn’t mean sacrificing athletic success, it’s Whiley – she knows it’s changed her perspective on court for the better.
“I hate being away from him especially when it’s for two to three weeks at a time. It’s hard and I feel guilty about it,” she said. “But it has changed everything. I feel as though I’m a completely different person,” said Whiley. “Having Jackson changed my perspective on life, he made me realise that tennis is what I do, not who I am.
“I let tennis consume my life and I became a person I didn’t like. Now I’m a tennis player again but above all I am a mother, role model and a positive influence on my son.
“I’m kinder to myself and have more empathy to others which has made me a better tennis player and person.
“I am able to see things more clearly and learn from my mistakes constructively. I owe it all to my son who has made me love myself and my career again.”
Whiley and Kamiji celebrating their third Australian Open wheelchair doubles title (Credit: @jordannejoyce92)
Having Jackson changed my perspective on life, he made me realise that tennis is what I do, not who I am
With Tokyo looming ever closer, Whiley is determined to make sure her Australian Open feat isn’t just a one-off.
In Japan she’ll have the chance to go one better than Rio, where she claimed bronze alongside Lucy Shuker, but it’s not just doubles success she’s after.
Whiley, yet to win an individual Paralympics medal, may have lost to Kamiji in the quarterfinals of the singles competition in Melbourne last week, but the 27-year-old firmly believes it’s time to turn her singles fortunes around.
“It would mean everything to bring Jackson back a medal. I think I would literally cry for days,” added Whiley.
“I was emotionally distraught after Rio and I wanted to come back with my new outlook on life, new coach and an overhaul of my game style, to give it everything I’ve got for Tokyo to try and achieve my life goal of a singles gold medal, but with no regrets, whatever the result.
“It would be even better to win gold, with my fiancée as my coach and my son to witness it… maybe that’s what I’ve been unknowingly waiting for all this time.
“Maybe my time just hasn’t come yet, but I’ve never given up on my dream, and that’s the message I want my son and others to realise, regardless of if I win gold or not.”
Joint the ParalympicsGB movement
The ParalympicsGB movement
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