Lausanne, Switzerland, March 5, 2020 – Brazilian beach volleyball star Larissa Franca will be back on the courts soon as the 37-year-old defender announced she would return to the sport to partner her wife Lili Maestrini. The team will be coached by Athens 2004 Olympic champion Ricardo Santos.
A three-time Olympian, Larissa is one of the most accomplished beach volleyball players to ever compete on the FIVB World Tour as the Brazilian won the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and took the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics with longtime partner Juliana Felisberta. She has appeared in 151 international events and won 105 medals – 62 golds, 23 silver and 20 bronze.
The World Tour’s Most Outstanding Player in 2006 and 2015, Larissa will make her second comeback as she took a break from the sport between 2013 and 2014 before she decided to retire at the end of the 2017 season when she was playing with Talita Antunes.
“I’m very happy to play again and, more than that, to have Lili by my side,” she said in an interview to GloboEsporte. “It’s a new stage of my career and I’m taking it very positively, I’m very aware that everything will happen at its own pace and we probably still need some more time before we’re ready to play. It’s going to be wonderful, we feel like it’s something we had to experience together and that will make us grow a lot and bring us even closer.”
Married since 2013, Larissa and Lili, a bronze medalist at the 2013 World Championships, recently saw their family grow with the birth of their first son, Gael, last November. The four-month old baby is an inspiration for their union on the courts as they’ll be partners for the first time in their careers after being opponents for several years.
“We just want to enjoy it and have fun together,” the 32-year-old Lili explained. “Gael’s arrival changed our lives and our routines, we’re no longer just athletes, now we’re athletes and mothers and there’s a lot that comes with it. That makes me believe we’ll share very special moments together. Just the thought that he’ll be able to cheer for us both together, it excites me so much. We won’t be a duo out there, we’ll be a trio.”
The Brazilians are currently training in Orlando, Florida, USA, where their coach, Ricardo, lives. The legendary 45-year-old is still playing on both the Brazilian Tour and the American AVP and he’ll start the transition to a coaching role with Larissa and Lili.
“I’ve been preparing for this transition for a while and I’m excited by the challenge,” the four-time Olympian commented. “We know the start will be difficult because they both haven’t played in a while, but their quality is sky-high. We’ll take our time and prepare them in the best possible way for the moment in which they start competing again. We’ll not skip any steps.”