For female athletes, one of the most important career decisions comes outside of competition: When to start a family. With a nine-month commitment for pregnancy even before the child arrives, many athletes wait until retirement to start a family.

To celebrate Mother's Day, here's a look at these supermoms took motherhood head-on, while also competing at the highest level in their respective sports.

Supermoms: Mothers Who Keep On Winning Slideshow


Jennie Finch

After winning gold at the 2004 Olympics, Jennie Finch became the face of U.S. Softball. She posed for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, (and declined offers from Playboy and Maxim). In 2006, Finch stepped away from the fame to give birth to son Ace Shane. She returned to the national team shortly after and helped the U.S. earn a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.


Kerri Walsh Jennings

In the two years after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Walsh Jennings had not one, but two babies. Joseph Michael was born in May 2009 and Sundance Thomas in May 2010. During the 2010 season, Walsh Jennings' long-time partner Misty May-Treanor struggled with replacement partner Nicole Branagh. In 2011, Walsh Jennings returned to competition, giving the duo enough time to prepare for their third beach volleyball gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics. Walsh Jennings was five weeks pregnant during the competition.


Candace Parker

In 2008, Parker won a college national championship, a Naismith Award, a Wooden Award, an NCAA tournament MVP award, the WNBA Rookie of the Year and MVP awards. In the offseason, she chose to take some time off the court to build a family with her husband, former NBA big man Shelden Williams. Parker gave birth to daughter Lailaa Nicole Williams in May 2009. She has a rebounding title, an All-Star appearance and an Olympic gold medal since becoming a mother.


Kim Clijsters

The Belgian tennis star was one month short of her 24th birthday when she retired in May 2007. Clijsters gave birth to a daughter, Jada Elle, in February 2008. In 2009, while preparing for a May exhibition at Wimbledon, Clijsters decided to give professional tennis another go. In just her third professional tournament back, Clijsters won the U.S. Open as a wild card. Clijsters won three Grand Slams as a mother (compared to one before motherhood) before her second retirement last September.


Paula Radcliffe

In May 2007, the then-33-year-old marathoner gave birth to daughter Isla after 27 hours of labor. Just six months later, Radcliffe won her second New York City Marathon. The Brit paraded Isla around the NYC streets after her victory. Radcliffe defended her title the following year.


Dara Torres

At 39, the swimmer gave birth to her first child, Tessa Grace, in April 2006. The following year, a 40-year-old Torres won gold at the U.S. Nationals in the 100-meter freestyle. She followed with three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics as a 41-year-old.


Christine Rampone

The U.S. national soccer team captain had her first child in September 2005 and her second child in March 2010. The 37-year-old has shown no sign of slowing down as a mother. She earned Olympic gold medals in both 2008 and 2012. (She had won her first before motherhood in 2004.) and bronze and silver medals at the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. Rampone is the second most-capped American international of all time with 280 appearances.


Hayley Wickenheiser

The Canadian ice hockey captain has a 13-year-old son, Noah, who has been able to witness his mother have one of the most decorated careers of all-time. All three of her Olympic gold medals (2002, 2006, 2010) have come since Noah's birth. After the 2002 gold-medal game, Wickenheiser did a victory lap around the ice with toddler Noah.

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-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.