Revealing the details of her dramatic birthing story for the first time, Serena Williams, 36, bravely shared that she was forced to endure multiple intense surgeries after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., back in September. Speaking to Vogue, the athlete explained that her scary health problems began even before baby Alexis was born. While at the hospital for her delivery, the child’s heart rate began to drop, and it was soon obvious that Serena would need a C-section — and fast. But the complications didn’t end after undergoing the emergency procedure.
“That was an amazing feeling,” Serena said of getting to see her daughter for the first time after her operation. “And then everything went bad.” Just one day after giving birth to Alexis, Serena started experiencing a shortness of breath. She told the hospital staff she was concerned that she may have developed blood clots. Turns out, she was right. The tennis champ had to stop taking her anticoagulant medications leading up the delivery, which played a role in in blood clots developing in her lungs.
Serena was immediately given a drip, but things got even worse when her constant coughing from her pulmonary embolism opened up the scar from the c-section. As a result, her abdomen quickly filled with her now-thinned blood from the same drugs that were also saving her life. The new mom ended up stuck in the hospital for six long days. In the end, she had to have a filter inserted into one of her major veins in order to prevent any possible clots from entering her lungs. She was also forced to go on bed rest for the next six weeks.
If that wasn’t difficult enough, Serena and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, 34, no longer had a night nurse to help them care for their newborn, as their arrangement had fallen through. “I was happy to change diapers,” Alexis told the mag, “but on top of everything she was going through, the feeling of not being able to help made it even harder. Consider for a moment that your body is one of the greatest things on this planet, and you’re trapped in it.”
The tennis star herself got super candid not only about her emergency C-section and health issues, but also on motherhood and all the changes it brings — at times, the very challenging changes. “Sometimes I get really down and feel like, ‘Man, I can’t do this.’ It’s that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that’s just who I am,” Serena said. “No one talks about the low moments — the pressure you feel, the incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry.”
Serena explained further, “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.” While Serena originally planned on making her big return to the court this month at the Australian Open, she announced just last week that her comeback will have to wait.
“After performing in my first match after giving birth I realized that although I am super close I’m not where I personally want to be,” Serena wrote in a statement on Snapchat. “My coach and team always said ‘Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ With that being said I am disappointed to say I’ve decided not to compete in The Australian Open this year. However, the memory of last year’s Open is one that I will carry with me, and Olympia and I look forward to coming back again. I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open.”