Siegemund's U.S. Open women's doubles triumph marred by personal loss

(Reuters) - Laura Siegemund said she was filled with mixed emotions after capturing the U.S. Open women’s doubles crown with Russia’s Vera Zvonareva on Friday, the day of her aunt’s funeral.

Sep 11, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; (L-R) Vera Zvonareva of Russia looks on as Laura Siegemund of Germany speaks during the awards ceremony after their match against Yifan Xu of China and Nicole Melichar of the United States (both not pictured) in the women's doubles final on day eleven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Siegemund’s aunt, Helga, the twin sister of her mother, died from cancer nearly three weeks ago when the German was in New York ahead of the U.S. Open.

“Today was her funeral, my parents came from that to watch the match. They missed the first couple games because of that,” Siegemund, 32, told reporters.

“There were a lot of things going on in my head. I mean, she’s 65. That was no age (to go). My cousin is my age. I cannot imagine what’s going on in her head right now.

During the trophy presentation following Siegemund and Zvonareva’s 6-4 6-4 win over third seeds Nicole Melichar and Yifan Xu, the German pointed upwards and blew a kiss to the sky.

“Some things are more important than career. When it comes to family, and you cannot be there in the last moments at a funeral, that’s hard,” added Siegemund.

Siegemund said her aunt’s death had put her in a difficult position and while she wanted to be with her family, she did not want to leave Flushing Meadows midway through the tournament.

“I feel this is one of the biggest sacrifices because I don’t want to just leave the tournament and say, I’m going home because this is more important. It’s my job to be here. It was really hard,” she said.

Siegemund said she missed receiving a congratulatory text from Helga after securing her first Grand Slam doubles title.

“She always wrote me nice texts. She would have texted me something for sure. I just feel like I know she’s watching and I wanted to say something,” she said.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill