Childbirth is one of the more beautiful things to witness and experience in life. Although it’s a miraculous gift, it does come with a cost. Pregnancies often involve some complications, whether it’s during or after, which can be challenging to endure at a time like that. Even for a world champion.
Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player, believed to be the number one of all time by some people. She has won the second most major professional championships for women and is still competing at the highest level. The world-class athlete stepped away from the court this past year to embark on a new journey to becoming a first-time mother.
On September 1st, 2017, that dream became a reality, as she and her husband Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, welcomed a baby girl into the world. After a fairly routine pregnancy, little Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born, however, with welcoming celebrations of the birth, came uninvited complications.
The tennis star revealed the struggle that ensued when it came time for delivery, in a recent article with Vogue. As the contractions began, it is reported that the to-be-born Alexis’s heartbeat plunged. After undergoing an emergency C-section, Serena had encountered another scare, in what could’ve been a potentially fatal complication: blood clots. Just a day later in the hospital room, she began to gasp for air, and requested an IV with heparin, which is a blood thinner, and a CT scan for clots.
Unfortunately, many small blood clots were detected in her lungs, and she had to be put on medication. Additionally, her C-section wound re-opened due to a coughing fit because of the clots in her lungs. As you can imagine, this was an immensely difficult time for Serena following an already worrisome delivery. After another required surgery to correct the issue, it was found that she had further clotted blood in her abdominal tissue. Still, there was more work to be done. A filter now needed to be inserted into a major vein, to prevent further clotting in her lungs.
After a challenging time at the hospital, Serena had won the battle and returned to her Florida home with her new family. Although it brought her peace and allowed her to rest in the comfort of her own home, the cries at night didn’t. She had struggled with her emotions at night, with the cries of her daughter, and the guilt that would follow for being angry about it. This was something that, just like every other set of parents before them, they had to conquer and get past together, on the road to starting their new family.
Today, Serena Williams spoke out on Facebook, following the revelation of her family’s story. “I didn’t expect that sharing our family’s story of Olympia’s birth and all of the complications after giving birth would start such an outpouring of discussion from women — especially black women — who have faced similar complications and women whose problems go unaddressed.”
Women worldwide have been touched by her story and praised her for her courage to share it with Vogue and the world. This is an inspiring time for others who are experiencing their own struggles with pregnancy and childbirth, coming from a prominent figure in the sports world.
She added “Let me be clear: EVERY mother, regardless of race, or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. I personally want all women of all colors to have the best experience they can have. My personal experience was not great but it was MY experience and I’m happy it happened to me. It made me stronger and it made me appreciate women — both women with and without kids — even more. We are powerful!!!”
Overcoming the early struggles that came with delivery and bringing a newborn home, Serena is now focused on making her big comeback on the world stage of tennis. She’s got a new record on the horizon to break, the 25 grand championship titles record currently held by Margaret Court. Williams’ has never been a stranger to breaking records in tennis, holding an extended list of her own that is yet to be surpassed.
Serena has not only exemplified she’s a world-class athlete, but a world-class human, overcoming the struggles and challenges she faced through pregnancy and becoming a voice and inspiration to women worldwide. She continues to demonstrate her competitive drive and although she’s an advocate for tennis, she claims she wouldn’t force her daughter into it and wants to “teach her that there are no limits.”
There’s no telling the future that her daughter has ahead of her, but one thing that’s surely clear is she has a mother who is a true example of the strength and quality that women behold, and can lead her to achieve her own greatness.
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