Serena Williams takes the next step in her development and announces that she will soon be focusing on her family from tennis.
“I’m here to tell you I’m evolving away from tennis and into other things that are important to me,” she wrote in an article for Fashion. “But I was reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I needed to get away from playing tennis.”
Reflecting on her tennis career and upbringing, the 40-year-old athlete credited her parents and sister Venus Williams with shaping her into the player she has become. “If I hadn’t stood in the shadow of Venus, I would never have become who I am. When someone said I was just the little sister, I was really stoked,” Williams wrote. “For me, that’s the essence of Serena: expecting the best in myself and proving people wrong. There were so many games I won because something made me angry or someone counted me out. That drove me. I’ve built a career channeling anger and negativity and turning it into something good.”
Still, the perfection she strived for in her career took its toll on her personal life. She even shared that as a younger athlete, she “never thought about having kids” and wasn’t sure if it would fit into her lifestyle.
“I’ve never been this confident or comfortable around babies or children and I figured if I ever had a baby I would have people around the clock to take care of it,” she wrote. “I’m not going to lie – I definitely have a lot of support. But I’m also an incredibly practical mom. My husband will tell you I’m too active. In five years Olympia has only spent one 24 hours away from me.”
She continued, “The fact is, for me, nothing is a sacrifice when it comes to the Olympics. It just all makes sense.”
Serena has been open about the difficulties she faced giving birth to her daughter, whom she shares with husband Alexis Ohanian, in 2017. A five-part HBO documentary entitled be Serena even shared her difficult transition to return to tennis after that experience. Ultimately, she realized that “Tennis in comparison [to taking care of her family]She always felt like a victim.”
“The way I look at it, I should have had 30+ Grand Slams. I had my chances after coming back from childbirth. I went from having a cesarean to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I went through postpartum depression. But I didn’t get there,” she wrote Fashion. “Should, would, could. I didn’t show up like I should have or could have. But I’ve showed up 23 times and that’s fine. Actually, it’s extraordinary. But these days, when I have to choose, building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter.”
She also revealed that she and her husband recently “were trying to have another child” and received hopeful news from their doctor that they are ready to add to their family. “As an athlete, I definitely don’t want to get pregnant again,” she said. “I have to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
Her daughter Olympia also wants to “be a big sister”.
Williams didn’t fail to point out that the difficult decision was one she was uniquely faced with as a female athlete.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a man I wouldn’t be writing this because I would be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical work to expand our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had the chance,” she wrote. “Don’t get me wrong, I love being a woman and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those annoying women who loved being pregnant and worked up until the day I had to report to the hospital – although things got super complicated on the other side and I almost did the impossible: lots of people don’t know I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 [in September]and something must give.”
While Williams shared that she’s reluctant to think about her legacy, she hopes to have made a difference for future female athletes.
“I would like to believe that the opportunities I have given women athletes will feel like they can be themselves on the pitch. They can play with aggression and pump their fists. You can be strong and yet beautiful. They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick ass and be proud of everything,” she wrote. “I want it to be like this: Serena is this and she is that and she was an amazing one tennis player and she won these slams.”
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