Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian are gracing the cover of the February issue of VOGUE magazine. The photos are stunning, of course, and the tennis superstar seems as happy as ever. But getting to this place as a new mom has been anything but easy. Williams shared that she had serious complications after giving birth that could have taken an even uglier turn.
Page Six reported that the 36-year-old enjoyed meeting her first-born after doctors delivered her via C-section. Alexis was in distress as her heart rate dropped dangerously low during labor. But shortly after successfully giving birth to a healthy baby, things took a turn for the worse.
Williams started to experience shortness of breath. She recognized that her symptoms were the same that she felt during a 2011 bout with a pulmonary embolism– a blood clot in her lung. She told doctors exactly what they needed to do. After a bit of prodding, they concurred.
“I was like, a Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,” Williams said. “I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!”
Williams got past that emergency only to have yet another. The blood clots in her lungs caused coughing fits that were so forceful, she ruptured her incision. Doctors went in to perform surgery to close the wound only to find another blood clot in her abdominal cavity. It required a procedure where they inserted a filter into her vein to prevent blood clots from traveling to her lungs. The new mom was forced to stay in bed for six grueling weeks.
The ordeal, Williams said, was overwhelming and sometimes depressing. She has felt pretty much every emotion that a brand-new, first-time mom can feel.
“It’s that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that’s who I am,” Williams said. “No one talks about the low moments — the pressure you feel, the incredible let down every time you hear the baby cry. 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.”
Williams was slated to play her first grand slam since having baby Alexis on Jan. 15 at the Australian Open. She pulled out after an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi deciding that she isn’t quite ready to come back. The match was especially tough because of her prolonged recovery but Williams needs only two grand slam wins to become the all-time record holder. So when she comes back, Williams will be focused on winning. And if her health and the well-being of little Alexis delays her return a bit longer, then so be it.