Female athletes who returned to action after giving birth
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Female athletes who returned to action after giving birth

For the richest athletes in the world, having and raising children is just another part of life. Cristiano Ronaldo probably wouldn't risk missing a Champions League Final over his partner giving birth. WFAN radio hosts Mike Francesa, Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason, among others, once verbally crushed MLB player Daniel Murphy about taking paternity leave during the season, and Murphy only missed a handful of games. 

Top-tier female athletes sacrifice more than a few outings or several contractually obligated events due to giving birth. A woman could easily lose at least one entire season of work while in her physical prime. Many who returned to fields of play after giving birth quickly found their prior forms as if they never stepped away in the first place. Some were even better than ever competing as moms. Here are 20 such athletes.

 
1 of 20

Nia Ali

Nia Ali
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Odds are you probably saw pictures of track star Nia Ali celebrating with her smiling son, Titus, at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Last June the silver medalist and her partner, sprinter Andre De Grasse, became parents to a baby girl. 

 
Kristin Armstrong
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

Road bicycle racer Kristin Armstrong already possessed an Olympic gold medal when she retired to start a family in 2009. Some retirements last longer than others. Armstrong won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and she held her son while rocking her medal in Rio de Janeiro. 

 
Victoria Azarenka
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka spent some time away from the court following the birth of her son in December 2016. As Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times detailed, Azarenka withdrew from the 2017 US Open due to an ongoing custody battle. She resumed her career last year.  

 
4 of 20

DeWanna Bonner

DeWanna Bonner
Todd Lussier-NBAE via Getty Images

Two-time WNBA champion DeWanna Bonner and her spouse, Indiana Fever forward Candice Dupree, welcomed twins into the world in the summer of 2017. Bonner returned to the club last year and features for the Phoenix Mercury

 
5 of 20

Shannon Boxx

Shannon Boxx
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

In September 2013, United States Women's National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx tweeted "#Lookingahead2WC2015" as part of her pregnancy announcement. Boxx retired in fall of 2015 a reigning World Cup champion and the mother of a girl named Zoe. 

 
6 of 20

Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In July 2016, Chris Chavez of Sports Illustrated wrote about how Sarah Brown competed at the Olympic Trials four months after she gave birth to her daughter. Apparently Brown took an entire week off before training. It's nice she gave herself time to relax!

 
Lindsay Davenport
David L. Pokress-Newsday-MCT-Sipa USA

Reports of American tennis star Lindsay Davenport retiring in 2005 and 2006 were greatly exaggerated. Per Reuters, she returned to the court roughly three months after the birth of her son in 2007. Her second comeback occurred in 2010 following the birth of her daughter Lauren. 

 
8 of 20

Jennie Finch

Jennie Finch
Bruce Glikas-Getty Images

Along with being the world's most famous softball personality, Jennie Finch is also a mom. She gave birth to her first child in May 2006, but she was back on the field six weeks later, according to the official Team USA website. She was part of the squad that won silver at the 2008 Olympics. 

 
9 of 20

Bria Hartley

Bria Hartley
Steve Freeman-NBAE via Getty Images

New York Liberty guard Bria Hartley was one of three WNBA players who spoke with Nina Mandell of USA Today/For The Win in May 2017 about celebrating her first Mother’s Day as a mom. In late August 2016 the Liberty announced she would miss the remainder of that campaign due to her pregnancy. She re-signed with the club in February 2018. 

 
10 of 20

Yana Kunitskaya

Yana Kunitskaya
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

As Dan Hiergesell of MMA Mania explained, Yana Kunitskaya retired from fighting in 2012 to make the transition to coaching. She eventually returned to the cage, and she was the mother of a 3-year-old son when casual fans of the sport were introduced to her on the night that she battled Cris "Cyborg" Justino in March 2018. 

 
11 of 20

Sydney Leroux

Sydney Leroux
Don Juan Moore-Getty Images

Sydney Leroux, a former face of the USWNT, gave birth to son Cassius Cruz Dwyer in September 2016. She "fought like hell" to return to the pitch, and she currently features for the Orlando Pride. Leroux showed she isn't afraid to teach Cassius a lesson or two on the field. 

 
12 of 20

Candace Parker

Candace Parker
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In October 2008, Candace Parker won WNBA Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. Of course, a little thing like maternity leave wasn't going to stop her. As Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times explained, Parker returned to the court six weeks after giving birth. 

 
13 of 20

Christie Pearce

Christie Pearce
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Former USWNT star Christie Pearce, who spent the majority of her playing days as Christie Rampone, is no stranger to comebacks. She took 2005 off to have her first child, and she took a break from playing in 2009 ahead of the birth of her second daughter. She made five World Cup and four Olympic squads during her legendary career. 

 
14 of 20

Paula Radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe
Emilio Andreoli-Getty Images

Long-distance runner and multi-marathon winner Paula Radcliffe gave birth to her first child, Isla, in January 2007. In November of that same year, Radcliffe finished first in the New York City Marathon. Think of her the next time you're struggling to get to the gym.

 
15 of 20

Amy Rodriguez

Amy Rodriguez
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As Kara McDermott of KUOW wrote, National Women’s Soccer League and USWNT attacker Amy Rodriguez was surprised to learn that she was pregnant and would miss the entire 2013 campaign. Rodriguez returned to club and national team duties, and she featured in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

 
16 of 20

Dara Torres

Dara Torres
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Twelve-time Olympic swimming medalist Dara Torres was 40 years old and the mother of 16-month-old Tessa when she hit the pool at the 2007 USA Swimming National Championships. She won the 100-meter freestyle and broke her own record in the 50 meter. Torres wasn't finished there, as she became the oldest swimming medalist in Olympic history at the 2008 London Games. She earned three silver medals in Beijing. 

 
17 of 20

Kerri Walsh Jennings

Kerri Walsh Jennings
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Kerri Walsh Jennings, one half of the greatest beach volleyball team of all time, welcomed her first son into the world in May 2009, about nine months after she and teammate Misty May-Treanor repeated as Olympic champions. She told "Today" that she was pregnant when the duo completed the trifecta at the London Olympics. Don't look now, but Walsh Jennings is working on one last Olympic challenge

 
Michelle Waterson
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

"The Karate Hottie," Michelle Waterson, gave birth to her daughter, Araya, in 2011. Two years later she defeated Jessica Penne to win the Invicta Fighting Championship atomweight  title. Waterson currently competes in the UFC. 

 
19 of 20

Serena Williams

Serena Williams
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Serena Williams, the most dominant tennis player in history, won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant. For a piece published in January 2018, she spoke with Vogue about difficulties following childbirth that delayed her comeback. She was the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2018. 

 
20 of 20

Cat Zingano

Cat Zingano
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

According to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden , Cat Zingano is the first mom to ever fight in the UFC. Her biggest bout, to date, occurred in February 2015 when she lost to Ronda Rousey. She currently sits sixth in the UFC bantamweight rankings. 

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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