As the world marked International Women’s Day last week, global stars were not left behind and some have their mothers to thank for their sterling performances over the years. Here are some of the most supporting mums.
1. Dolores Aveiro
When Cristiano Ronaldo’s mum published her memoir, Mother Courage, in 2014, many were shocked that she’d tried to terminate her pregnancy by “drinking warm beer and running until I dropped” after doctors disagreed with her decision to abort. The Real Madrid striker has clearly forgiven her and they remain inseparable.
Former cook Dolores looks after his financial affairs and is helping raise three of his four children, whose mothers’ identity remains a mystery. During Cristiano’s early days at Manchester United, she was pictured holding his hand as they crossed a road. Aww.
2. Celia Cuccitini
The mother of twinkle-toed football megastar Lionel Messi hit the headlines three years ago when she came at one of her son’s old flames with a frying pan and a barrage of abuse.
Model Macarena Lemos was out shopping when Mama Messi approached her, wielding a weapon she’d grabbed from the kitchenware department.
“She seemed to think I’d said something to a magazine, but I never did,” insisted Lemos. Part-time cleaner Celia lives back in Messi’s native Argentina and he clearly misses her: he phones home daily and has her portrait tattooed on his back.
3. Dionisia Pacquiao
A single mum of six, formidable Filipina Dionisia stood up for boxer son Manny two years ago following his controversial defeat to American Timothy Bradley, demanding a rematch from her shanty in Manila. Manny duly exacted revenge in the spring of 2014.
The protective 68-year-old known as “Mommy D” says the reason she’s so close to “the Pac-Man” an eight-weight world champ who has moved into politics by becoming a congressman, is because he used to help her with household chores.
4. Kim Clijsters
“The Mother of all Comebacks” was the headline when Belgian tennis star Clijsters lifted the 2009 US Open trophy two years after retiring to start a family, becoming the first mother to win a major for three decades.
Her triumph at Flushing Meadows came 16 months after giving birth to daughter, Jada. She was handed unseeded wild card status to compete in the tournament and adjusted the toddler’s daytime naps so she’d be able to stay up late to watch the final.
Jada came on court to celebrate after Mum’s straight-sets victory and was there again when Clijsters successfully defended the title a year later.
5. Lucille O’Neal
“Don’t call me Mama Shaq,” she said upon the 2010 publication of her self-help book Walk Like You Have Somewhere To Go. “I want people to know who Lucille is.”
The mother of basketball behemoth, 7ft 1in Shaquille O’Neal, stands 6ft 2in herself. She became pregnant at 17 while at high school but still graduated.
After having three more children and conquering her alcoholism, Lucille went back to college, earned two degrees, and is now a motivational speaker and youth charity worker.
6. Judy Murray
The Scottish tennis coach is a familiar sight at Wimbledon, punching the air when son Andy hits a winner or when his big brother Jamie, a doubles specialist, does likewise. As a prolific junior tennis champion, Judy remains fiercely competitive, so don’t write off her ballroom chances.
7. Annie Underwood
Grandstand viewers watching England rugby union in the 80s and 90s will recall proud Chinese-Malaysian mother, Annie, leaping up and down in the stands in a one-woman Mexican wave.
The endearing dance would occur whenever one of her two sons scored, which happened frequently, with 63 international tries between them.
Speedy winger Rory scored a record 50 tries for England and the British Lions, switching from right flank to left to accommodate his younger brother, Tony, in the team, becoming the first siblings to play together for England in more than half a century.
8. Fanny Blankers-Koen
Nicknamed “the Flying Housewife” (or, more palatably, “the Flying Dutchmam”), she was the star of the 1948 London Olympics, winning four golds.
Her victories in the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay were made even more remarkable by the fact that she was a 30-year-old mother who cycled to training with her two children sitting in her bicycle’s basket.
During an era when many disregarded women’s sport, she demolished prejudices and half a century later was named “female athlete of the 20th century” by the IAAF.
9. Evonne Goolagong
Clijsters’s forerunner was Australian tennis legend Goolagong, one of eight children born to an indigenous Australian family in New South Wales.
This graceful hitter became the first mother to win Wimbledon since the first world war when she clinched the 1980 title.
It had been three years since 29-year-old Goolagong-Cawley, as she became after marrying British tennis player Roger Cawley, had won the last of her six other Grand Slam singles titles and nine years since her previous victory in London SW19, the longest ever gap between Wimbledon titles. Daughter Kelly now helps her mum run tennis camps, while son Morgan became a footballer.
10. Michelle Broad
“Miche” was the wife of 80s England opener Chris Broad, now a Test match referee, and stepmother to his two children: England fast bowler Stuart and his sister Gemma, who works for the national cricket team.
In 2009 Miche, a gregarious character with a career organising golf tournaments, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.