Christinna Pedersen & Kamilla Rytter Juhl: The badminton Olympic silver medallists taking their baby on tour

By Katie FalkinghamBBC Sport
All England Badminton Championships
Dates: 6-10 March
Coverage: Live coverage of every round available on the BBC Sport website and app, plus Connected TV and iPlayer

Had things gone the way they planned, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl would have missed the biggest tournament of the badminton year.

A pregnancy test on the eve of last year's All England Championships would decide whether they participated or not.

Had two lines appeared, the Danish Olympic silver medallists would have pulled out. They didn't - and five days later they won the most prestigious title of their careers.

"We were hoping I would already be pregnant," Rytter Juhl tells BBC Sport.

"It was a crazy feeling to go to England not knowing whether we would play or not. We hadn't practised for the two weeks before."

It was to be their final major tournament together. The next pregnancy test they took was positive, and two months ago they welcomed daughter Molly into the world.

"Maybe it was meant to be, that we would have that last tournament and title and then we would become mums."

Here, Pedersen and Rytter Juhl tell BBC Sport of their initial struggle with their same-sex relationship, their decision to keep it private, and welcoming new life into the world.

'I cannot be with another girl' - accepting themselves and keeping it private

Ten years ago, before teaming up on court, Rytter Juhl and Pedersen began an off-court relationship, though it had taken some time for them to accept their feelings for one another.

They were team-mates who had become friends on tour. Neither had been in a same-sex relationship before and they thought it may be a "period" that would pass.

"I had said 'no way, I cannot be together with another girl'," Pedersen, 32, says.

"But we could not avoid our feelings any more. They were getting stronger and stronger. I think because we took our time, suddenly we felt it was the right thing for us to be together."

Though they told their family, friends, team-mates and coaches, they decided to keep their relationship secret from the rest of the world. Many of badminton's biggest tournaments are played in Asian countries where same-sex relationships are not accepted, and they didn't want to risk their safety.

"It was also important for us to be known as the badminton players," says Pedersen, who won mixed-doubles bronze at the London 2012 Olympics in addition to her women's doubles silver at Rio 2016 with Rytter Juhl.

"We wanted to show everybody that we were good at playing badminton, and not be known as the couple the newspapers would write about. We wanted them to tell the story of the badminton.

"After Rio, we felt we had shown the world that we are good at playing badminton, so the time could be right for us."

Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen with their Olympic silver medals
With the world unaware of their off-court relationship, Rytter Juhl and Pedersen won Olympic silver at Rio 2016

'We had nothing to be afraid of' - revealing their relationship

In October 2017, the multiple world and European medallists spoke about their relationship on Danish television, coinciding with the release of their tell-all autobiography in their homeland.

The reaction - from all around the world - was overwhelming.

"We had nothing to be afraid of, because after we told our story it has been so positive and we don't feel uncomfortable anywhere in the world," Rytter Juhl, 35, says.

Pedersen adds: "We 100% feel safe. Out of 100 comments on social media, there could be one bad comment. We really feel secure when we travel around the world."

Ten months later they had more news for the badminton world. Two was shortly to become three and Rytter Juhl was bringing a stop to her career - or at least a pause, for now.

"People find it really fun to follow the new life we have now. It's a bit different now if you look at our Instagramexternal-link - there are more pictures of family time instead of only badminton training," she says.

"It's a new time for us and our fans, but luckily they like it."

'It was important to find the right time' - having a baby

Molly Rytter-Pedersen was born on 5 January this year. Her mothers - who will be known as the Danish translation of 'Mum K' and 'Mum C' - are so obviously elated, their smiles spreading from ear to ear as they speak of the surprising amount of sleep they are getting.

They decided it would be Rytter Juhl who would carry their first child because of her age, though Pedersen hopes to fall pregnant one day with a sibling for Molly.

"It has always been a big dream for us to have a baby," says Pedersen. "It was important to find the right time, because we couldn't have a baby and still be playing. We needed to take Kamilla out.

"I have only ever known Kamilla as an athlete, as a badminton player, so to see her getting bigger and bigger, she was getting slower and slower."

For Rytter Juhl, who takes inspiration from tennis player Serena Williams, making the decision to quit badminton was an easy one.

"Maybe it's because of my age that I feel OK with it," she says. "It's the right time.

"In one way, I miss it a little bit, and then on the other hand, I don't miss it at all because it is very tough to be at the top. The pressure was so high."

But will she be following in Williams' footsteps and returning to the top of the game?

"I don't think I have what it takes to come back right now," she says.

'We pack lots of diapers' - taking baby on tour

Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen with their baby daughter, Molly
Baby Molly was born in January and now travels round the world with her mums

Rytter Juhl and Molly are now Pedersen's chief supporters, following her around the globe and cheering from courtside.

This year's All England in Birmingham - in which Pedersen will play with Mathias Christiansen in the mixed doubles - is the first time Molly will see 'Mum C' play in a World Tour event, albeit from the comfort of her pram.

"It's so much different this year. I'm not bringing my racquet, I'm bringing Molly and a lot of diapers," Rytter Juhl says.

"It was always the plan [to travel with Molly]. Christinna wanted to be a part of this as much as I did. If we didn't do this, Christinna would have to travel more than 100 days every year and we didn't want to start a family like that.

"We had our first tournament two weeks ago in Barcelona and we made a big list so we were sure we had everything. It was a much bigger list than normal!"

Pedersen adds: "Badminton was never life or death for us, but now I can feel that when I am not playing my best or I have had bad training, when I get home to Kamilla and Molly, I forget it."

Rytter Juhl and Pedersen say they will be open with their daughter about the nature of their relationship and her entry into the world, though say she will have plenty of fatherly role models in her life too.

"It's important for us that she knows how everything works when you are in a same-sex relationship," Rytter Juhl says.

"We also think we can be dads sometimes!"

So will Molly Rytter-Pedersen be taking to court at the All England in the future?

"No," they joke. "We want her to be a tennis player!"