Serena Williams Gives up Tennis to 'Focus on Being a Mom' & Plans for 2nd Baby despite Tough 1st Labor
Serena Williams plans on giving her daughter a sibling despite never thinking about becoming a mother. Her new dream has caused the tennis professional to sacrifice something synonymous with who she is.
In an August 2022 Vogue piece, Serena Williams discussed her shocking decision to retire from professional tennis. She confessed to the publication that she'd never liked the word "retirement" because it didn't fit her version of the modern world.
She instead preferred calling what she was doing an evolution than retirement. Serena revealed that she was evolving away from the sport that made her a household name to other things that were important to her.
Serena Williams celebrates victory after winning her finals match at the Brisbane International on January 4, 2014, in Brisbane, Australia. | Source: Getty Images
The athlete shared how she'd started a venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, a few years before. Soon after that milestone was passed, the tennis player began growing her family with the addition of her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., adding:
"I want to grow that family."
Serena said she had been reluctant to admit to herself or others that she had to move away from playing tennis. She shared that her husband, Alexis Ohanian Sr., hardly discussed it because it was a taboo topic for them.
The star said she also couldn't have the conversation with her father or mother. The athlete felt it wasn't a real thing until it was said out loud, and when it came up, she would get an "uncomfortable lump" in her throat and start crying.
The only person she'd talked to about it was her therapist. Serena admitted that her whole life had been about tennis up until that point, with her father noting how she'd picked up a tennis racket at age three.
However, the tennis professional believed she picked up one earlier. She recalled a photo of her sister, Venus Williams, pushing her in a baby stroller on a tennis court, and at the time, Serena wasn't older than 18 months old.
The athlete's life goals had since changed because if she had to choose between building her tennis résumé or a family, the star said she'd choose the latter. Serena's daughter, who would be five in September 2022, said something powerful to her.
On their way to pick up the little girl's passport for a European trip, Olympia held her mother's phone in the car. The child was playing one of her favorite interactive educational applications, and the game asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, with Serena writing:
"She doesn’t know I’m listening, but I can hear the answer she whispers into the phone. She says, 'I want to be a big sister.'”
According to the little girl's mother, Olympia made the plea often, even when she knew Serena was listening. It would happen before the child slept when she'd pray for a baby sister to be brought to her.
However, the tennis star clarified that her daughter didn't want to hear anything about her parents having a baby boy. As the youngest sibling out of five daughters, Serena understood because her sisters were her heroes, with her adding:
"So this has felt like a moment I need to listen very carefully to."
Serena explained that she never wished to choose between a family and tennis because she didn't think it was fair. The tennis player noted that she wouldn't have had to write the Vogue article if she was a man.
She would win matches while her wife did the "physical labor" of expanding their family. The star fantasized about being Tom Brady if given the opportunity but explained that she loved being a woman and each second of her pregnancy with her daughter.
She described herself as one of the annoying women that adored the pregnancy stage and worked until she had to go into the hospital. Serena noted how things got complicated when she got to the hospital but realized that she'd almost done the impossible.
Serena Williams with the championship trophy during the awards ceremony after her victory at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2017. | Source: Getty Images
She revealed how she was two months pregnant when she won 2017's Australian Open. The star shared how she turned 41 in August 2022 and felt something had to give.
In an Instagram post that she uploaded during the same month, Serena shared her Vogue cover picture and said there came a time when people had to move in different directions. She acknowledged how hard it was when the thing to move away from was something you loved.
The athlete confessed that the countdown to the end of her career had started. She said she wanted to focus on being a mother, discovering an equally exciting but different Serena, and her spiritual goals.
WILLIAMS NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT HAVING CHILDREN BUT LOOKED FORWARD TO HAVING A SECOND ONE
In the Vogue article, Serena shared how she'd never thought about having offspring in her career's early stages. On rare occasions, she wondered about bringing children into the world but worried about the problems they'd face.
The star said she'd never been comfortable around children or babies and thought other people would always look after the child if she had one. Serena admitted that she had support with Olympia but was a hands-on parent.
In all the years her daughter has been alive, the little girl only stayed apart from her mother for a day. While recovering from a hamstring injury, Serena still picked up Olympia four out of the five weekly school days, with the athlete adding:
"The fact is that nothing is a sacrifice for me when it comes to Olympia. It all just makes sense."
Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding ceremony at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. | Source: Getty Images
The professional tennis player wanted to teach her daughter how to read, tie her shoes, and much more, just like her mother did. Olympia was into something different each month, and lately, it was watching baking shows.
Serena confessed that whatever her daughter liked, she liked it too, including The Floor Is Lava game where they pretended the gym floor was lava. In comparison, tennis felt like a sacrifice she'd enjoyed making.
She noted how her parents had pushed her for the sport, but now she told them to allow their children to do what they wanted. However, she admitted that she never rebelled as a child but chose to work hard and follow the rules.
The athlete said she didn't want to push Olympia into tennis but into anything that captured the little girl's interest. Serena refused to push her daughter hard and said she was learning to find the right balance.
The tennis player said she and her husband had spent 2021 trying for another child. She shared how their doctor had recently alleviated their stress by informing them that whenever they were ready for a second addition, they could do it; however, Serena said:
"I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out."
SERENA DIDN'T LIKE HER HUSBAND WHEN SHE FIRST MET HIM
Although Serena and Alexis were planning on a second child together, the start of their relationship was tricky. On April 26, 2018, the athlete told how they'd met during her "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" interview.
She said while in Rome, Italy, for a tournament, she would generally stay in her room and watch movies or study. The star also avoided eating breakfast during the duration because of how nervous she got.
One morning she decided to break her tradition, but when she got downstairs, breakfast was close, so she sat elsewhere. While sitting with her coach and trainer in the empty area, a big tall man walked in.
Serena Williams, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, and Alexis Ohanian at Serena's final match on January 12, 2020, in Auckland, New Zealand. | Source: Getty Images
Serena hilariously described the stranger as "frumpy but hard." The man decided to sit next to Serena's table, and she and her colleagues tried getting rid of him by lying that there was a rat, but that meeting led to the couple getting married!
HOW ALEXIS BECAME SERENA'S SUPPORT SYSTEM DURING AFTER WELCOMING THEIR DAUGHTER
In January 2018, Serena spoke to Vogue about her struggles welcoming her daughter on September 1, 2017. The star had an easy pregnancy until Olympia had to be born via C-section after the athlete's heart rate dropped too low during her contractions.
Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams at "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between" Costume Institute Gala on May 1, 2017, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
After the emergency procedure went through successfully, little Olympia stopped crying when she was placed on Serena's chest. The following day, Serena started feeling short of breath, and the star assumed she was having another pulmonary embolism.
Alexis [Ohanian] happily changed his daughter's [Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.] diapers but struggled because he couldn't help his wife [Serena Williams].
Blood clots were a constant fear Serena lived with, and she walked to a nurse to gasp out her issue while leaving her mother in her hospital room. The athlete explained she needed the blood thinner IV heparin, and a CT scan.
The nurse thought Serena was confused because of her pain medication, but the tennis star insisted. A doctor heeded her call and performed an ultrasound of the athlete's legs and found nothing but a CT scan that showed blood clots in the star's lungs!
Serena had managed to save her own life! Sadly, because she coughed so much, the star's C-section broke open, and she went back into surgery.
She later went back for surgery to have a filter placed into a primary vein to prevent more clots from traveling into her lungs. Serena only returned home a week later to discover her night nurse hadn't pitched.
During the first six weeks of motherhood, Serena could not leave her bed, but her husband showed up. Alexis happily changed his daughter's diapers but struggled because he couldn't help his wife.