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2018-01-30 16:40:00 CET

Baby break over for Liliana

Spanish star returns to the beach in Fort Lauderdale after having her first baby

Liliana (left) celebrates with Elsa during the Toronto Finals in 2016Liliana (left) celebrates with Elsa during the Toronto Finals in 2016

When Spaniard Liliana Fernández last competed, in the 2016 World Tour Finals in Toronto, beach volleyball world was a lot different. Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst were not the world champions, Swiss Isabelle Forrer and Nadine Zumkehr had not yet retired and Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes had only just made their debut as a team.

Liliana took a full year off for a good reason as she gave birth to her first son, Saul, last August. Now she’s ready to return and her reunion with long-time partner Elsa Baquerizo is set to happen at the Fort Lauderdale Major, which starts on February 27.

“I’m so excited to return and to compete with Elsa again,” the 31-year-old Liliana told beachmajorseries.com. “I missed her so much, it’s always fun when we are together. We are friends and we stayed in touch during this entire time and I was always following her tournaments, especially in the summer.”

VoleyPlaya Lili-Elsa on Twitter

Y ya estamos de vuelta a los entrenamientos 🏐πŸ’ͺ Esto es parte del "duro" entrenamiento post maternidad de Lili πŸ˜‚πŸ€¦πŸ»‍♀️ #UCAM #GrupoSuardiaz #ProyectoFER #AdidasSpirtEyewear #KTSport https://t.co/uZ4QinNN8X

During Liliana’s absence, Elsa played with three different partners, but the strong connection between the two is undeniable as they have been sharing the courts around the world since 2007, when they joined forces for the first time to represent Spain in the FIVB Under-21 World Championships.

And their bond, which already generated five silver and two bronze medals in the World Tour, will reach a milestone in Fort Lauderdale when the Spaniards will play their 100th international tournament together.

“This is going to make my return even more special,” Liliana said. “Elsa and I have several special memories and this is definitely going to be one of them. We’ve been together for 11 seasons and to think that this will be our 100th tournament brings some extra motivation.”

The duo’s goal in Fort Lauderdale will be enjoying the tournament above everything. And that sounds like a reasonable plan for two friends who couldn’t do what they most love together for the last 17 months.

“We just want to enjoy every match,” she says. “It has been a while since we last played together, so we definitely want to have fun again. We’ll struggle at some point, as any other team, but we will learn from it and work to fix our mistakes.”

As the year goes on, though, Liliana and Elsa plan on regaining the competitive form they showcased during their time together. A lot of that will have to do with how fast Liliana, one of the most physical players in World Tour, can get back to her usual shape.

She has been training without limitations and was cleared to play in Fort Lauderdale, but is still not the athletic player she once was.

“Of course my body changed a lot, but I’m working hard to get back to my best shape,” Liliana added. “I’m a physical player and I always use all my strength to jump and hit, so I need that to play at my best. But I’m very confident about my game and, if I’m not 100 per cent fit when the season starts, I’ll be sooner or later.”

Considering her exercising habits, though, it shouldn’t be a tough task. A self-declared workout addicted, Liliana has remained extremely active in the months before and after Saul’s birth, always waiting for the moment she could compete again.

“I had a very active pregnancy and that was great because I can’t live without exercising,” she explains. “I respected my limitations and in the final months I was just walking and swimming, but before that I was doing gym and beach trainings. I resumed training in December and I even take Saul with me when I need and I love spending time with him.”

We’re looking forward to seeing you and your baby boy in Fort Lauderdale, Liliana!

Aprendiendo de mami πŸ€“πŸ’­πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ€ΈπŸ»‍♂️ * * Learning from mummy πŸ€“πŸ’­πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ€ΈπŸ»‍♂️ * * #BabySaul #Almost5Months #LowPressureFitness #PostPregnancyTraining

240 Likes, 5 Comments - πŸ’« Liliana Fernández Steiner πŸ’« (@liliana.fernandez.steiner) on Instagram: "Aprendiendo de mami πŸ€“πŸ’­πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ€ΈπŸ»‍♂️ * * Learning from mummy πŸ€“πŸ’­πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ€ΈπŸ»‍♂️ * * #BabySaul #Almost5Months..."

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