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"No C-section, that's the biggest thing," Parker says. We'll see about that." She says she's training hard, prepping to play as soon as July, two months after her due date. "The baby will be along for the ride, with me on trips, at the court." She sighs. That's just the way it is." She offers a weary smile before adding, "For now."Parker does demand a lot from herself. "Most sports viewers are men, and the people who attend women's sporting events, 65% of whom are female, aren't the ones watching events on television.
Patrick is nowhere near the best in her field, but she doesn't need to be, because she is hot enough to pose for Maxim. She wants to be a champion, too, like Maria Sharapova, who earns upward of million a year-the most of any female athlete-of which only a small fraction comes from playing tennis. "She always fit the brand values: authentic, inspirational."I knew people would have positive and negative reactions to it," she says. I needed to get over that." (She's showing signs; Parker squelched all talk of diaper ads early on.)She insists that her sponsors are uniformly happy. She palms a men's basketball."All of that helps Parker stand out on the court. "She could change the dynamics of women's sports," Thompson theorizes."Adidas told me they were going to sell more baby clothes," she says. "If they watch because of her, they'll see the rest of us." The burden of altering the entire course of women's professional athletics, of rewriting the rules of economic allocation, doesn't faze Parker: "In eighth grade, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a big picture of me on the sports page."I knew my decision," she says, again referencing her pregnancy, the inconvenient timing never far from her mind. There are no rules to follow, no well-worn path to tread. She isn't making Le Bron money, but she is drawing those sorts of contracts.Parker admits that she was worried about sharing the news with her sponsors and team, worried about letting them down. There is just you, hacking through the brush, forging ahead. And it is only the first year of her pro career."The hope is, where Parker goes, other women follow.