Serena Williams Didn't Feel a 'Connection' with Daughter During Pregnancy: 'I Longed for It'

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian share 4-year-old daughter Olympia

Serena Williams and Daughter Olympia
Photo: Serena Williams/Instagram

Serena Williams is reflecting on the first moments after her daughter Olympia was born.

In a personal essay for Elle, the 40-year-old tennis star opened up about her harrowing childbirth experience and revealed that she initially didn't form a connection with her daughter, now 4, until after she gave birth.

"I was nervous about meeting my baby. Throughout my pregnancy, I'd never felt a connection with her," Williams wrote. "While I loved being pregnant, I didn't have that amazing Oh my God, this is my baby moment, ever. It's something people don't usually talk about, because we're supposed to be in love from the first second."

"Yes, I was a lioness who would protect her baby at any cost, but I wasn't gushing over her," she continued. "I kept waiting to feel like I knew her during pregnancy, but the feeling never came. Some of my mom friends told me they didn't feel the connection in the womb either, which made me feel better, but still, I longed for it."

RELATED VIDEO: Serena Williams Recalls Being 'Devastated' By Emergency C-Section and Postpartum Problems

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Williams said the connection finally came after giving birth to Olympia in September 2017. The athlete shares her daughter with husband Alexis Ohanian.

"When I finally saw her — and I just knew it was going to be a girl, that was one thing I knew about her before we even had it confirmed — I loved her right away," Williams wrote in her essay. "It wasn't exactly instantaneous, but it was there, and from that seed, it grew. I couldn't stop staring at her, my Olympia."

"I spent the night in the hospital with my baby in the room. When I woke up, she was nestled in my arms. The rest of my body was paralyzed. I couldn't get out of bed because my legs were still numb, but it didn't matter. Alexis and I sat there, alone with our new baby. It was surreal to feel the presence of this third person in the room," she added.

Williams' birth experience wasn't an easy one. The tennis champion was rushed into an emergency cesarean section, and after the delivery, a coughing fit made her wound reopen and led doctors to discover multiple, life-threatening blood clots in her body.

Serena Williams and Alexis Olympia
Serena Williams/Instagram

After her daughter's arrival, Williams told PEOPLE that though she felt lucky to be alive, what followed was six weeks in bed recovering, all while trying to adjust to motherhood.

"My whole life I've been physically pushing my body to the limits," she said. "And this is the one time where I couldn't control anything. I couldn't push my body. My body pushed to its maximum. That was so hard."

Since bouncing back from her postpartum complications, Williams is often giving her social media followers a look at her mother-daughter bond with Olympia. Most recently, she shared a series of throwback photos from Paris Fashion Week, where she twinned with her 4-year-old in the same hot pink Balmain dress.

For the mommy-and-me moment, Williams and her little one pose in front of a fireplace, with Olympia sitting on the mantel while her mom stands in front of her. While the tennis star paired her dress with heeled red booties, Olympia opted for a cute pair of gold sandals.

"Hey @olympiaohanian, remember that time when we were in Paris? And we slayyyyyyeddddd," Williams captioned the photos.

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