LONDON — The first semifinalist at this year’s Wimbledon is the oldest woman remaining in the draw.
Tatjana Maria, a 34-year-old German who returned to the tour less than a year ago following the birth of her second daughter, advanced to the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her 35th appearance. She beat another German, 22-year-old Jule Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, on Tuesday on No. 1 Court.
“One year ago, I just gave birth,” Maria said on court. “It’s crazy.”
Maria is making her 10th appearance at the All England Club and has become only the sixth woman in the Open era to reach the Wimbledon semifinals after turning 34. Her best previous performance was reaching the third round in 2015. She never even made it that far at the other three major tennis tournaments.
It hasn’t all come easy this year.
Maria is ranked 103rd in the world and was outside the top 250 as recently as March. Since returning from maternity leave, she lost in the first round at the US Open, the Australian Open and the French Open.
That changed on the grass courts of Wimbledon.
Maria beat three seeded players in a row in her run to the quarterfinals, including fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the third round and 12th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, in the fourth round.
She will next face third-seeded Ons Jabeur, who defeated Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 to reach a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time. Jabeur became the first Arab player, female or male, to advance to a Grand Slam semifinal in the Open Era, which began in 1968.
“I was hoping that I could get to this stage for a long time already. I struggled a few times in the quarterfinal. I’m glad that I can — because I was talking a little bit to [former Moroccan tennis player who reached four major quarterfinals] Hicham Arazi, and he told me, ‘Arabs always lose in the quarterfinals and we are sick of it. Please break this.’ I was, like, I’ll try, my friend, don’t put this in my hand,'” Jabeur said.
“We were just texting, and he was really happy. He was, like, Thank you for finally making the semifinal. Now you can really go and get the title.”
ESPN’s D’Arcy Maine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.