She's arguably the greatest woman golfer of all time. Annika Sorenstam has 72 LPGA career wins, including 10 majors, was named Player of the Year a record eight times and owns the lowest round in LPGA history, a 59.
She's also a mom.
Sorenstam, 40, walked away from golf at the end of the 2008 season to marry Mike McGee, a former sports agent, and start a family. Daughter Ava Madelyn was born Sept. 1, 2009. Son William Nicholas arrived March 21, much earlier than expected. Sorenstam was just 27 weeks into her pregnancy when a placental abruption forced a C-section. Will came into the world at 2 pounds, 1½ ounces and 15 inches long. More than a month later, he weighs 4 pounds, 10 ounces, is out of an incubator and able to breastfeed.
With plans to celebrate Mother's Day in Orlando with her family, Sorenstam talked to espnW about how much motherhood means to her.
espnW: First, and most important, how's baby Will doing?
Annika Sorenstam: Will is doing really well. He's making amazing progress. He passes every test and challenge. Now, it is coming down the stretch. We are working on having him eat on his own so he can leave the hospital.
espnW: Now that you can pick him up and feed him, are Mike and you better able to bond with Will?
AS: We are certainly connecting with him now. It is very different than a full-term baby. He has been in an incubator and his exposure had been very limited, so it was harder to bond. He's now getting to the point where he is active and looking around and we are so happy to be able to connect with him. We are really looking forward to him joining our family at home soon.
espnW: How do you describe yourself these days?
AS: I'm very much a full-time mom. I just love it. The bond and the love you feel and what I've experienced with Ava. Everything is pretty much different every day. That's what I love, it's always something new. You know, she gets so excited about things and it's just so much fun.
espnW: How has being a mom changed you?
AS: My little girl is 19 months old and she's full of energy. It's a lot of fun. I think it's calming down a little bit. I think I'm a lot more patient -- I mean I was patient -- but I'm a lot more patient now. This is what matters to me.
espnW: Is motherhood what you expected it to be?
AS: I'm not really sure what I expected. Certainly the way you feel for somebody is very different. You know, you start, I'm not going to say you start worrying, but you want the best for them and you want them to experience things. You want to give them a loving, educational upbringing. Like with Ava, I want her to feel independent, but also feel she has support. I think you can read all these things on being a mother, but what I've found is you've got to go with the flow; how she reacts, how I react and how different situations are. This is not a science project that you can follow some guidelines. And you know, I'm very structural. That's how I am, but that's not how you do it with children. So it's good for me and my imagination to be a little more loose and take it as it comes.
espnW: What are your favorite moments with Ava?
AS: As a mother and a parent you think your child is the best. I love the things I do with her, when we take a bath, go in the pool. I read books with her, she sits next to me, I have my arm around her, and she repeats what I say in her own little language. I speak Swedish to her and Mike speaks English and she mixes it up and it's really funny. She has her own little language. She's a determined little girl and it's fun to see. Every day when I see her, I light up and she lights up just like a Christmas tree.
espnW: Obviously, you were still a top player on the tour when you walked away from the game. Did you give any thought to having children and still playing?
AS: It never really crossed my mind. I stepped away because I wanted to pursue other things. Motherhood is a big part of my life, but I have several businesses I run, which takes a lot of my time. I have a golf academy, I design golf courses, have the foundation, a clothing line and I'm part of different committees when it comes to golf, like trying to get golf into the Olympics.
Every week I'm on "Morning Drive," which is a golf show on the Golf Channel, so I'm a little bit of an analyst. For me, what I do now is nothing that I would've thought of doing. I've had my career, and I'm proud of it. But now I'm in a different phase of my life and it's OK.
espnW: When you left the game you didn't use the word retire. Was that deliberate? Do you think you might decide to step back in and play?
AS: I do not have any plans to go back, but who knows? It might change. I'm 40 years old -- I'm not 20 anymore -- so I think that makes a difference. I really love what I do. I love the business side of it, and I'm still so involved in the game. And if I'm going to start playing again, well, you can't do it all. I love this chapter of my life.