Serena Williams reveals life-threatening complications after giving birth

Published: 11 January 2018 Image credit: AP

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Tennis superstar Serena Williams has revealed in an interview with US fashion magazine Vogue she was bedridden for six weeks after the arrival of her daughter, following complications after giving birth.

Ms Williams, 36, said her daughter Alexis Olympia had to be delivered by an emergency Caesarean section after her heart-rate dropped to a dangerously low level during birth.

“And then everything went bad,” the star said in the interview.

Serena said the first complication started when she suffered a shortness of breath, and because of her history of blood clots, she insisted she needed a CT scan – leading doctors to find several small blood clots in her lungs.

The next ordeal came after her fresh C-section wound opened up from coughing spells, caused by pulmonary embolism.

When doctors investigated, they found a large haematoma had flooded her abdomen, prompting the first of a series of operations.

Ms Williams said she then underwent numerous surgeries and was bedridden for six weeks.

The former world number one revealed how hard it was not being able to help with her new baby, and that the first few months after giving birth really tested her.

“Sometimes I get really down and feel like, man, I can’t do this,” she told the Vogue magazine.

“It’s that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that’s just who I am.

“No one talks about the low moments—the pressure you feel, the incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry. I’ve broken down I don’t know how many times. Or I’ll get angry about the crying, then sad about being angry, and then guilty, like, why do I feel so sad when I have a beautiful baby?

“The emotions are insane.”

Serena’s mother Oracene Price, has been staying with her since the birth to help out, and told Vogue she hopes her daughter slows down a bit and finds a “healthy equilibrium”.

“Serena works herself too hard,” she said.

“She’s responsible for another life now. You should see how they travel with that baby. They pack everything! It’s a bit extravagant for me. But once she’s back on the tour, she’ll find a balance.”


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Serena cradling her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. 


 Serena also said in the interview she hopes her daughter has her drive and pursues whatever she wants.


“I think sometimes women limit themselves,” she said.

“I’m not sure why we think that way, but I know that we’re sometimes taught to not dream as big as men, not to believe we can be a president or a CEO, when in the same household a male child is told he can be anything he wants.

“I’m so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits.”

Despite all the complications the tennis star said she plans to continue playing tennis.

“I’ve been playing tennis since before my memories started,” Serena said.

“At my age, I see the finish line. And when you see the finish line, you don’t slow down. You speed up.”