Serena Williams Opens Up on Motherhood and Career

We all love Serena and aside from loving to watch her play her tennis matches, we have been following as Serena Williams opens up on motherhood and career. She shares on becoming a new mum, her health scare during delivery, work life balance and the many emotions she has been dealing with. Mothers are really the same everywhere sharing a bond that comes from having a child.

serena and baby
Serena on Pregnancy

Becoming a mother was life threatening for her, The pregnancy was easy, she says, but the delivery led to a series of complications, including a life-threatening pulmonary embolism and hematoma that required multiple surgeries.

She spent the next six weeks mostly in bed, too weak to get up on her own, let alone swing a tennis racket.

After giving birth to her daughter Olympia through emergency C-section. The next day, Serena began to feel out of breath. She suffered a pulmonary embolism in 2011, and thought this might be another one. Serena demanded a CT scan for her lungs.

The scan showed blood clots. Coughing from the embolism caused her C-section wound to pop; in surgery, doctors found a large hematoma in her abdomen. Another procedure inserted a filter into her veins to prevent more clots. There were five surgeries in total.

A week after giving birth, Williams was sent home, but she was confined to bed rest for six weeks. Although Williams wanted to enjoy being a new mother, she found it hard because of the emotional roller coaster she was riding.

On post delivery even as she gradually regained her strength, Serena couldn’t shake a sense of sadness, a feeling that she had done something wrong or wasn’t doing enough.

Her husband, Ohanian shared how difficult a period it was, “It’s a lot to change gears from being really happy and thrilled about bringing this life into the world to having to kiss your wife goodbye and praying she’ll be O.K.,”

Mothers the world over rallied around her remarkable run at Wimbledon

She has been encouraging other mothers by being honest about her experiences. Serena says having the support of mothers all over the world helped carry her through the low moments. “I dedicated that to all the moms out there who’ve been through a lot,” she says. “Some days, I cry. I’m really sad. I’ve had meltdowns. It’s been a really tough 11 months. If I can do it, you guys can do it too.”

Serena on Work Life Balance

During her workout and practice sessions, she shares that between backhands she wonders ““what my baby is doing?”

This she has in common with most parents, Millions of working parents wrestle with this question every day. In cubicles and call centers, at restaurants and on assembly lines, a large portion of the world’s workforce consistently thinks about their children.

Serena even managed to implement “no cell phone” Sundays despite Ohanian’s full-time, device-dependent work life.

Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, says she made choices that put her family above her career, including staying home with Olympia and Ohanian rather than going early to Europe for clay-court prep. “I felt the decisions were taken through the angle of the family, where before, every decision was taken through the angle of tennis,” says Mouratoglou.

Early on, eager to bond with Olympia, Serena was hesitant to let others even hold her. Serena says now it was born of a deep insecurity that she was somehow failing as a mom.  Her friend Kelly Rowland, part of a small group of moms Serena leans on for advice says “It was crazy to hear her in a state of, ‘I just don’t know what to do with the different emotions, It was hard to wrap my head around it. I’m like, She can do everything.”

Serena opens up on Motherhood

“I still have to learn a balance of being there for her, and being there for me. I’m working on it. I never understood women before, when they put themselves in second or third place. And it’s so easy to do. It’s so easy to do.”

That’s the thing about being a parent, though, particularly a working mom. No matter your resources–and Serena, who has won more than $86 million in prize money, and Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit and a prominent venture capitalist, have far more than most, including child-care help; it’s still easy to feel like you are struggling with it all.

She’s learning on the fly, like all parents. She still gets down, and has moments when she doesn’t want to hang out with Olympia and then feels terrible for it. And then there’s all the time she can’t bear to pry herself away, despite knowing that her game will suffer for it. But mostly, Serena is learning to recognize the swings, tell herself they’re normal and fight the urge to beat herself up. “Nothing about me right now is perfect,” she says. “But I’m perfectly Serena.”

Her mother, Oracene, shares that she mainly bites her tongue, that daughters don’t tend to respond well to parenting advice from their own moms.

serena williams baby
Credit: Alexis Ohanian/Instagram
On Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding was another tension point. Serena nursed Olympia for the first eight months, even though she believes it made it harder for her to get back into playing shape. “You have the power to sustain the life that God gave her,” she says. “You have the power to make her happy, to calm her. At any other time in your life, you don’t have this magical superpower.”

When she had to stop breastfeeding, “I looked at Olympia, and I was like, ‘Listen, Mommy needs to get her body back, so Mommy’s going to stop now.’ We had a really good conversation. We talked it out.”

On The Pull of Social Media

She says she fell prey to peer pressure on social media, posting a photo of her post-pregnancy body on Instagram. She used a waist trainer to push in her stomach. “I hated that I fell victim to that,” she reportedly shared. “It puts a lot of pressure on women, young and old.”

Read Tips for Work Life Balance

On Making a Difference as a New Mother

Serena has spoken out about gender discrimination in the workplace, questioning why women coming back from maternity leave should lose their seeds in a tournament draw. Williams was the top-ranked player in the world before she had Olympia. At the French Open, she did not receive a seed–a penalty that could dissuade other players from having children.

“It would be nice to recognize that women shouldn’t be treated differently because they take time to bring life into this world,” Serena says. She’s not the first player to come back after giving birth, but it wasn’t until she did that the U.S. Open pledged to incorporate maternity decisions into its seeding process.


serena williams vogue cover

By appearing on the cover at sometime between three and four months, Alexis (Serna’s daughter) becomes Vogue’s youngest ever cover stat in the fashion magazine’s 125 year history. Serena granted an interview with Vogue, in February 2018.

Serena versus Venus at the US Open

At their recent match at the US Open this past Friday, Serena won in her match against Venus. “This was my best match since I returned,” said Serena, who improved to 18-12 against Venus and 11-5 in grand slam matches. “I worked for it. I worked really hard these last three or four months. That’s life, you have to keep working hard no matter ups or downs you have. That’s what I’ve been doing.” (Guardian)

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