Serena Confirms Pregnancy: Is Tennis Safe At 20 Weeks And Why Azarenka Stopped Playing During Pregnancy

Serena Williams has officially confirmed her pregnancy on Wednesday after she nearly broke the internet with a photo of her posing sideways on her Snapchat story. The photograph was captioned “20 weeks” and later was taken off her Snapchat story.

Serena’s fans now know at least one of the reasons she will be taking a break from tennis since her spokesperson, Kelly Bush Novak, told the world that Serena Williams will not be participating in the tennis arena this year and that her intention is to only return to the tennis circuit in 2018. Williams is taking a similar approach to Victoria Azarenka, who also took time off from the court when she found out that she was pregnant in July of 2016.

The photo, which had the world speculating about Serena’s pregnancy, was an image that shows Serena wearing a yellow bathing suit, and the clearly protruding profile of a baby bump is visible. Bush Novak said she did not know why the picture was removed and that she has no information about Serena’s social media accounts.

Kelly Bush Novak did make it clear that Serena will not be playing tennis again this year.

“Serena said that I should make sure if anyone asks that that is clear.”

Tennis, Pregnancy, and The Risks Involved for Professional Tennis Players Such As Serena Williams

BNP Paribas Open 2016 Serena Williams Victoria Azarenka
Both tennis stars Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams are entering motherhood, here they are a year ago at the PNB Paribas Open 2016 [Image by Julian Finney/Getty Images]

Tennis, in general, is a safe sport during early pregnancy. In the later stages of pregnancy, however, there could be more risks associated with this sport.

Serena has opted not to continue with her tennis career for this year, but she plans to get back on track next year. Victoria Azarenka took a similar approach last year when she found out that she was pregnant. Since giving birth last December to her son, Azarenka has indicated that she intends to return to competition after Wimbledon 2017.

The general rule of thumb for any sports in pregnancy is to continue the sport that you are doing at the same level of intensity and duration. In broad terms, this means that you shouldn’t start a new vigorous form of exercise without the care and supervision of your medical practitioner.

Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, an obstetrician/gynecologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said that Serena Williams could probably continue to play at a high level of tennis early on in her pregnancy. It is very likely that Williams was pregnant when she won the Australian Open in January.

“The kind of tennis that [she] plays is a much higher intensity and duration.”

According to Livestrong, even experienced players might encounter difficulties when choosing to play tennis during pregnancy because the body’s center of gravity changes.

“This change can make keeping your balance very challenging and in a sport like tennis, which relies on quick directional movements, balance is crucial. If you are playing tennis and you are in the later stages of your pregnancy, avoid going after wide balls. Stretching for hard-to-reach balls on the run can cause you to lose your balance and fall, which can potentially injure the baby.”

Babymed also points out that tennis is a contact sport with high risks associated with it.

“Tennis is also a contact sport, and there is chance that the ball could hit you and injure you or your baby; again, if your doctor okays you to play during your pregnancy you will need to decide if you are comfortable with this possible risk.”

Both Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka have obviously decided that they are not willing to take that chance.

Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2015 Serena Williams
Serena Williams attends the Wimbledon Champions Dinner in London, 2015 [Image by by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]

Tennis Star Friends Elated For Williams and Ohanian

Williams has made many friends in and out of the tennis arena. It should come as no surprise that Chris Evert, the world’s former female number one tennis star, and Serena texted on Wednesday night.

Getting married and having a child is a special journey.

“She, to me, is more than ready for this lifestyle change. It’s been 20 years on tour.”

Andy Roddick, the former male number one tennis player, who has known Serena since childhood, said that she would be a great mother.

“I’m elated for her; I’ve seen her with our son, and she will be a great mother.”

Williams is engaged to be married to Alexis Ohanian. They announced their engagement at the beginning of the year.

[Featured Image by Grant Lamos IV/Stringer/Getty Images]