2018-11-06 16:16:00 CEST
The three-time Olympian is ready to return after the birth of her first son and she’ll join forces with an old partner
The start of the 2019 World Tour season will definitely be entertaining. Besides of German Olympic and world champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, another star of the women’s game will find her way back to the courts as Brazilian veteran Talita Antunes is set to resume her career after giving birth to her first son, Renato, last June.
The 36-year-old blocker, who sat out the entire 2018 season because of her pregnancy, will pair with 34-year-old Taiana Lima. The tandem, which had a successful stint between 2013 and 2014, will be together again as early as by the end of this month, when they will compete in the Campo Grande stop of the Brazilian Tour.
“It was a great time,” Talita said about the months she was away from the sport. “I loved spending more time with my family and giving my body some rest after so many years playing. I always dreamed about being a mother and I’ve enjoyed my pregnancy and every second I’ve spent with my baby. I’m happier than ever and I’m hoping it will reflect when I return to the courts.”
Talita and Taiana were a force in the World Tour between 2013, when they won the point’s title, and 2014, claiming eight medals (five golds, two silvers and one bronze) in just 17 tournaments together. They also won the South American Games and a pair of titles in the Brazilian Tour.
They split after Talita was invited to partner Larissa França, who was returning to the sport after a break, and since then Taiana has played with Fernanda Berti, Juliana Felisberta, Elize Maia Secomandi and Carolina Horta, with who she won the silver medal at this year’s Fort Lauderdale Major.
After four years, the Brazilians are confident they can be back to contention.
“I’m super excited to play with Talita again,” Taiana told beachmajorseries.com. “I’m confident we can be a very strong team as we were before. I feel that I’m at the top of my game right now and I hope that makes our team better. Our first goal is to improve at each tournament.”
A three-time Olympian, Talita is aiming to secure her fourth Olympic appearance with a fourth different partner. She was fourth in Beijing 2008 with Renata Trevisan, ninth in London 2012 with Maria Elisa Antonelli and fourth again in Rio 2016 with Larissa.
The veteran, however, is reluctant to make long-term plans before she fully understands where she stands after a long time away from the courts. Talita has been active during most of her pregnancy and resumed training in October, but she wants to see how her body will react before she set new goals.
“We’re not making any plans yet,” she explained. “I’m returning now and I need to regain my best form and figure out how I’ll adapt to my new routine, being an athlete and a mother. We’re taking one step at a time and as soon as things start happening, then we’ll set some long-term goals for our team.”
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According to Taiana, however, her new partner is progressing in plain sight. With two weeks to improve before their debut, the defender is confident Talita will get back to the dominant player she was during most of her career.
“We’re taking one step at a time because she’s returning after a pregnancy, which is never easy,” the 2015 World Championship silver medalist remarked. “But we’ve been training together and her progress is clear. I believe she can get back to the level she was before the pregnancy. Talita has a great understanding of the game and once she’s at her best shape again, the game will flow naturally.”
If resuming her playing career will mean less time with her baby, Talita will now be closer than ever with her husband, Renato França, who will be one of the coaches of the new team alongside Marcelo 'Big' Carvalhaes.
“During my last year with Larissa we were living in different cities, so I used to practice with him, but now he’s officially my coach and that’s something,” she said. “He always got super excited about my results and now that we are working together they will our results, so I can just hope we have a lot of them to celebrate together.”