Serena Williams Says It's 'Painful' to Be Apart from Her Daughter Olympia While Competing
Serena Williams' daughter, Alexis Olympia, turns 2 on Sunday
“I actually prefer playing in the day because I get to go home and see my baby,” Williams — who has already made it to the fourth round of the U.S. Open — shared. “I’ve been missing her the last few nights when I play.”
“In the beginning she would really be upset when I left,” the athlete said about her daughter, who turns 2 on Sunday. “And now she’s a little bit better. I think I’m a little more upset. But at the same time, she definitely still takes it a little hard. She’s still super young.”
The mother of one added, “You know, it’s hard. Sometimes my heart literally aches when I’m not around her. But, you know, it’s good for me, I guess, to keep working and just — to all moms out there that it’s not easy. It’s really kind of painful sometimes. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.”
Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus more celebrity parenting news? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Parents newsletter.
Williams explained that her normal training schedule allows her to spend time with her daughter during the day, but tournaments make things more difficult.
“Usually I’m with her, I can train really early in the morning and be done pretty early with my day, and I can just stay with her for the rest of the day,” she told Forbes.
“In tournament schedule, it’s totally different, so I’m kind of pushed out of my usual day-to-day life,” Williams continued. “Oh, my God, I’m not with her. That’s been the most, I mean, the toughest thing I have ever dealt with in my career.”
Williams’ U.S. Open got off to a strong start, with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Maria Sharapova in her opening match. The tennis star has now made it to the fourth round of the tournament, and will next face Croatia’s Petra Martic on Sunday.
Ranked as a No. 8 seed, Williams is looking to win her 24th Grand Slam singles title, tying the record for most grand slam wins with Margaret Smith Court.
However, Williams’ recent injuries — which forced her to withdraw from the Cincinnati Masters and her final match of the Rogers Cup in Toronto due to back issues — have raised questions about how the champion will fare in this year’s open.
The U.S. Open began on Aug. 26 and runs until Sept. 8.