For the vast majority of the season, Maria was accompanied by Charlotte — who turned 4 on Dec. 20 — and her husband and coach, Charles. Her year began in Auckland, New Zealand, in early January and ended in Poitiers, France, in late October. It included stops in Bogotá, Colombia; Rabat, Morocco; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; and Quebec City.
Maria said that since her comeback in April 2014, Charlotte has been separated from her parents at only three tournaments. One was a lower-tier grass court event in Southsea, England, in June, when Charlotte stayed with her grandparents in France. Maria won the tournament by defeating top-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu.
“The grandparents were happy,” Maria, 30, said with a laugh. “They said, ‘Oh, she can stay with us more.’ Charlotte would like to stay with the grandparents, but for us it’s too long.
Credit Harry Murphy/Getty Images
“To travel together is the most important thing. At the beginning I told my husband that if we cannot go all together, I won’t go alone. I didn’t want to leave them behind. So we said right away that we do it together or don’t do it at all.”
A photo album with pictures from their destinations serves as a reminder of their travels. The couple find it difficult to narrow memorable moments on the road to one or two, although Charles chuckled when he reminisced about not being allowed on court for a legal coaching chat in Quebec City a few years ago. He forgot that he was carrying Charlotte.
The Marias said traveling with a young child surpassed life on the road without Charlotte, who they say copes admirably. She sleeps through the night and is used to airports and planes.
“We have no stress, never stress, so I think Charlotte felt that, too,” Charles said. “So she was really, really easy.”
There are several mothers in tournament fields these days, including Victoria Azarenka, who continues to be sidelined because of a child custody dispute; Vera Zvonareva; and Kateryna Bondarenko. Mandy Minella, who gave birth in the fall, has indicated she wants to resume her career at some point.
But Tatjana’s workload stands out.
“She will never be the kind of player that will play 22 tournaments,” her husband said. “She’ll always play between 28 and 32 or 33. It’s O.K. She likes this.
“I have to work hard for this, to be nice and to try to have her take a few weeks off during the year. That’s the plan.”
Unlike the partners of many other tour mothers, Charles played professionally, and that has helped the family set out together.
“I’m in the tennis world, too,” he said. “We were lucky that I knew this world.”
The couple met in 2012 in Palm Beach after, Tatjana said, she emerged from a “big hole” after the death of her father and coach, Heinrich, from cancer in 2008.
In March the same year, she suffered a pulmonary embolism — Williams had the same condition in 2011 — and said doctors told her she was “lucky” to survive.
“I went out and played every match for my dad” in 2009, Tatjana said. “I didn’t think about anything else. So it took me a lot of power. At the end of the year, I was really tired, so I took a break. When I took the break, I fell in a really big hole and it took me minimum three, four years to really find myself again.
“The first time I found myself again was when I met my husband.”
Charles moved to Florida in 2004 to coach a 9-year-old. He bought the couple’s house four years later, a time when house prices dropped significantly because of the economic downturn.
There are two guesthouses for extended family and friends, and he built a tennis court, too, an obvious benefit for a tennis player, especially during off-seasons and when his wife began to train again after giving birth.
“When she was sleeping, we said, ‘O.K., let’s go on the court,’” Charles said. “That was really easy because when you have to go to a tennis club and make a reservation and the baby starts to cry or needs to be fed, it’s a different story.”
During Tatjana’s pregnancy, the pair decided to change her backhand from a two-hander to a one-hander, an unusual and risky switch for a professional.
“Well, it was no risk, no fear at all, because I believed in her,” Charles said. “I still believe in her. I believed in myself, what I could give her.
“So it was not a big deal for me. But for sure you can imagine everyone called me and was telling me I was completely crazy, that she would never be better than 600th in the rankings.”
He expected his wife to play less next year, if only slightly. The plan is for Charlotte to attend school when she is 6, which may limit their globe-trotting.
“You never know what happens, but we were thinking that when she goes to school, I will stop maybe because I want to have a child,” Tatjana said. “Or maybe I will have a second, third or fourth child.”