Serena Williams opened up about her near-death experience while giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, her postpartum depression, and the unveiling of her eponymous clothing line in a candid interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
Williams, one of the greatest women players to have graced the game of tennis, gave birth to her daughter that she had with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last September. She spoke about how she had anticipated not having a normal delivery, opening up about a series of complications that took place during the birth.
In the beginning, the baby became distressed and doctors decided to perform a C-section. Soon after, Serena had blood clots forming in her lungs, which forced her to cough so hard that she ruptured her cesarean scar, filling her stomach with blood. Doctors had to perform repeated surgeries on her body, including the “implantation of a filter to prevent pulmonary embolisms migrating to her lungs,” but Serena says her mother’s prayers got her through the traumatic episode.
“Looking back, I don’t know how I got through it all. I mean I was praying, I know my mom was praying a lot,” she said.
Serena acknowledged that she had great doctors to take care of her and therefore was in a privileged position, but ruminated the state of affairs with women of color, who do not all get access to the same level of medical expertise.
“I am very fortunate that I am who I am, and also my doctor was very highly recommended, and she listened to me. Most doctors don’t do that, and people are dying, women of colour in particular. The numbers are insane.”
Williams went on to stress the importance of talking about postpartum depression — something she believes is not talked about much — even among women. Having struggled herself with the adaptability of her body to post-delivery trauma, as well as the tribulations of being a new mother, Serena recalled an instance when she almost cried her eyes out because she could not find Olympia’s bottle.
She also spoke about the different upbringing Olympia would receive compared to her, who grew up in the notorious Compton area. She talked about how her father, Richard, who was also her coach, would pay local children to taunt her with racist abuses when she went to the courts to play so that his daughter would learn to ignore them while playing.
Admitting that her family now comes first, Serena said that she is going back on the circuit and will play Wimbledon with Olympia being present. Although she would “reach for the sky,” she said, for the first time in her life, tennis has taken a backseat.
Her eponymous clothing line is synonymous in spirit with Serena herself — the core of her new enterprise being strong, powerful femininity. It will feature “T-shirts emblazoned with her signature S and empowering slogans: sophisticated, strong, smart, stylish, silly, sexy, super,” and many others.
Serena Williams will don the cover of Harper Bazaar’s July issue.