Serena Williams has proven that she is still a serious competitor by reaching the Wimbledon women’s final after giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia ten months ago. Although the American lost 3-6, 3-6 to Angelique Kerber, Williams is an inspiration to mothers who continue to strive for success at work after returning from maternity leave.
Commenting on her performance after her match on Centre Court, Williams said: “To all the moms out there, I was playing out there for you today and I tried. I look forward to continuing to be back out here and do what I do best.”
The 23-time champion experienced complications after having an emergency caesarean section which left Williams bedridden for six weeks. Williams had a pulmonary embolism, where at least one of the arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot.
The 36-year-old athlete has struggled with blood clots following the birth of her first child and has worn compression sleeves and tights during the tournament to help improve her blood flow and reduce stress.
During the French Open in May, Williams returned to tennis in style by wearing an all-black Nike catsuit to help prevent a recurrence of blood clots. The American gave a shout-out to her fellow mothers, tweeting: “Catsuit anyone? For all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy – here you go. If I can do it, so can you. Love you all!!”
However, an injury to Williams’s right pectoral muscle forced her to withdraw before the fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova.
Mothers winning grand slam titles are rare sights in tennis as the last mother to win Wimbledon was Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980. In 1973, Margaret Court won the French, Australian and US Opens following the birth of her son. Kim Clijsters became the third mother to win a Grand Slam in 2009 at the US Open.
Kerber, who lost against Williams in the 2016 Wimbledon final, commented on securing her first title at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. “It’s just a dream come true. I knew I had to play my best tennis against a champion like Serena.”
Williams admitted that she has been mentally challenged throughout Wimbledon, saying: “Really, just these two weeks were so mental for me. I won matches. I was really mentally fighting for literally every match. I did the best that I could every match that I played.”
She added: “I just feel like I’m taking the steps in the right direction. I took a giant step at Wimbledon. But my journey has just begun. Just have to keep going.’’