I was absolutely thrilled when I heard the news that Serena Williams announced she was pregnant on Snapchat last week. Her revelation that she won the Australian Open final while eight weeks pregnant has sent the universe at large into a tailspin. With headlines like “Serena Pregnant? Is her career over?” or “How did she compete while pregnant?” or even “How safe is Tennis in pregnancy?” makes it sound as if we’re living in the 1950’s again.
Of course the Internet went crazy.
Serena Williams is pregnant and people are already making predictions about a future tennis star. ??
— Moments Australia (@MomentsAU) April 19, 2017
Sorry am I an idiot I recognise I am not a sport journalist but why would pregnancy end Serena Williams career? Good comments section tho pic.twitter.com/2ngHqKHMje
— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) April 19, 2017
Usual sexist tripe about motherhood vs. career. > Tennis superstar Serena Williams confirms she is pregnant https://t.co/EVlMEtz6uJ via @smh
— Nicole Melanson (@WordMothers) April 19, 2017
The weaker sex? I think not. Fragile we are not. The internet agrees.
Serena isn’t the first athlete to compete during or soon after pregnancy. Not by a long shot.
The New York Marathon was won by Paula Radcliffe just months after giving birth. Another Tennis star, Kim Clijsters, won three of her four Grand Slam titles after becoming a Mum. And then there’s Kerri Walsh Jennings. She won her third Olympic Gold Medal during her third pregnancy. Don’t forget about Alysia Montaño running the 800m while 34 weeks pregnant with her daughter.
Although Serena isn’t the ONLY athlete to compete while pregnant or recently after pregnancy, she’s easily the most well known. She just recently defeated her sister Venus, 6-4, 6-4 in the final. She dropped not ONE set. Not one.
Now that she has told us that she’s 20 weeks, midpoint in a normal pregnancy, due the scoring system she will regain her place as world No 1 next week. Her place will be held for her if she returns to competition within a year of giving birth (per the WTA special ranking rule).
Not even remotely. Serena Williams has proven throughout her entire tennis career, blasting through barriers that taking a wrecking ball to the stereotypes that limit and disparage female athletes.
Serena is strong.
Serena is powerful.
Serena is fierce.
Serena is the Mistress of her Universe.
Serena has overcome insurmountable obstacles…
Williams won almost half of her Grand Slam titles after turning 30, unheard of for a female tennis player, but not Serena. She also triumphed over the development of potentially fatal blood clots in her lungs. So it’s no surprise to me that Williams won the Australian Open during her first trimester, sometimes the most excruciating part of pregnancy. Can you say morning sickness?
Serena’s publicist has made it crystal clear that she wants to return to tennis after becoming a Mum. And she can and will. If there’s one thing I know to be true about Serena… what she puts her mind towards, she accomplishes.
“You just have to prove to yourself that you can go out there and be the best that you can be and not prove anything to anyone.”