If you were of the belief that Serena Williams is an invincible warrior worthy of our praise, admiration and worship, you would be completely right. Not only does she look fierce in her cover shoot for Vogue‘s February 2018 issue, that woman just had a baby. And it was not easy (not that childbirth is ever a walk in the park).
Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. may be the cutest and youngest little star to grace the cover of Vogue, but her entry into the world caused a number of complications for her mother who spent six days fighting for her life and six weeks in recovery. The tennis champion opened up to Vogue about just how complicated her postnatal struggle was and how thrilled she is to be a mom (spoiler: it’s a lot).
Serena says she had a pretty standard pregnancy right up until the delivery room when Olympia’s heart rate dropped dramatically during contractions. An emergency C-section was performed without a hitch and Serena got to hold her baby daughter for the first time.
“That was an amazing feeling,” she told the magazine, “And then everything went bad.”
Since a fall in 2003 that caused pulmonary embolisms, Williams has lived in fear of blood clots, so that’s what she was concerned was happening when she felt short of breath the next day. After several tests (while Serena insisted she already knew what was wrong) doctors concluded that she was right and there were small blood clots on her lungs. She was put on a blood thinner, but the clots caused coughing which ruptured her C-section wound. Back to surgery.
While in surgery, doctors made another discovery: a large hematoma (blood clot including tissues) had traveled to her abdomen as a result of the blood thinner. Doctors inserted a filter into a major vein to prevent more clots from reaching her lungs. After a week, Serena was able to go home, but she was put on bed rest for her first six weeks of motherhood.
“We’re not spending a day apart until she’s eighteen,” Williams said, “Now that I’m 36 and I look at my baby, I remember that this was also one of my goals when I was little, before tennis took over, when I was still kind of a normal girl who played with dolls.”
Ever the perfectionist (most athletes are), Serena told the magazine that she sometimes finds herself slipping into a negative attitude “like on the court” but her mother’s help and encouragement has kept her on track. She says her mother has taught her to relax around Olympia but also play the strict parent when necessary because “obedience brings protection.”
Both Williams and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, have been open about their parenting. Williams appealed to the internet for tips when Olympia started teething and Ohanian has used his experience and platform to advocate for paid parental leave.
Teething- aka the devil – is so hard. Poor Alexis Olympia has been so uncomfortable. She cried so much (she never cries) I had to hold her until she fell asleep. I’ve tried amber beads… cold towels…. chew on mommies fingers…. homeopathic water (lol on that one) but nothing is working. It’s breaking my heart. I almost need my mom to come and hold me to sleep cause I’m so stressed. Help? Anyone??
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. (@alexisohanian) January 11, 2018
If you just can’t get enough of little Olympia (who could?) she has her own Instagram where her parents post the most adorable photos. So what do you think: tennis legend in the making or tech tycoon to be?