Serena Williams may be a champion on the tennis court, but when it comes to motherhood, she’s still learning the ropes.
The superstar athlete and mom to 11-month-old daughter Alexis Olympia sat down with Today’s Stephanie Ruhle recently, and revealed that she’s taken comfort in the feedback she’s received from other moms on social media.
“When I missed Olympia’s walking, I posted about it and so many parents wrote in and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I missed it too,’ ” Williams, 36, said in an interview that aired on the NBC morning show on Wednesday.
“I didn’t realize that it’s almost more normal to miss it than it is to make it,” she added. “So I really kind of rely on everyone’s help out there. It’s been so, so amazing.”
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If Williams sounds extra grateful for the help, it’s because motherhood has been a tough road from the beginning for the superstar athlete.
A struggle with postpartum depression followed, something that only got harder as she began to leave Olympia during the day to return to the tennis court.
“A lot of women don’t have that opportunity,” Williams explained to Today. “In a weird way, I’m doing it for women who can’t. So for me, being around her, every day is super important. And I want her to have a great upbringing the best way that I know how.”
Now, almost a year since giving birth, Williams is back on the tennis court. After an impressive 23 Grand Slam singles titles, she’s just one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record — a score she’s looking to settle this month at the U.S. Open in New York City.
Since Williams has been back, she’s played in five tournaments. Earlier this month, there was a crushing loss in the opening round of a U.S. Open tune-up tournament in San Jose, California. In July, Williams made it to the final round of Wimbledon, but was defeated.
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But losing hasn’t shaken Williams’ confidence. “I was always there mentally,” she told Today. “I was always watching and being a part of it. And I never wanted to hang up my racket at that point. I’m still trying to compete and win Grand Slams and most of all do it while I have a daughter.”
“This is the beginning for a new career for me,” she continued. “I’m not going to be gone after the Open. I’m going to be in the next Grand Slam and the next and the next and the next.”
And while she does that, she has all the love coming from husband Alexis Ohanian and their baby girl.
“It’s been an amazing year,” Williams said on Today. “I feel different joy. I’ve always been this joyful person but now it’s just totally different. I feel just, light. It’s just totally different.”
Ruhle also told the Today team that Williams revealed one of Olympia’s quirks.
“She shared that Olympia just likes to be naked,” Ruhle said, after the segment aired. “[Serena] goes, ‘This girl gets out of the tub and runs around naked.’ And like any mom she’s like, ‘I’ve got to negotiate. She wants to do it. As long as she wears pajamas to bed.’ “