May 31, 2018 12:11 PM

Motherhood has been a one-of-a-kind, life-changing experience for Serena Williams, but it hasn’t been easy 24/7.

In her July cover story for Harper’s Bazaar UK, the 23-time Grand Slam champ opened up about some of the more difficult aspects of life since welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia, now 8 months.

“Honestly, sometimes I still think I have to deal with it,” admits Williams, 36, of her struggle with postpartum depression. (After Olympia’s birth via emergency cesarean section, the athlete also had a near-death experience involving pulmonary embolism.)

“I think people need to talk about it more because it’s almost like the fourth trimester, it’s part of the pregnancy,” she explains. “I remember one day, I couldn’t find Olympia’s bottle and I got so upset I started crying … because I wanted to be perfect for her.”

But overall, Williams is confident she has been a good role model for her baby girl. “I hope I am, and I’m going to strive to be the best mom I can be,” she says.

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Serena Williams for Harper's Bazaar
Courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK/Richard Phibbs

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Regardless of her mama’s intent, Olympia has already taken an interest in tennis — but Williams has much different goals for her daughter.

“I don’t know any player who would say they want their kid to play tennis,” she says, referring to the sacrifices she has had to made to excel in the sport. (She does credit baby Olympia with her Australian Open win, though, which she clinched early on in her pregnancy in January 2017.)

“Outside of the Mandarin tutor and the French tutor, which I’m really serious about, and of course ballet, I have no dreams for her,” Williams says. “I want to let her do whatever she wants to do, as long as it’s positive. Always try to be an addition to society, not a subtraction.”

Serena Williams for Harper's Bazaar
Courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK/Richard Phibbs

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One thing Williams isn’t sweating is getting down to a clothing size she previously set as a goal for herself 14 years ago, at age 22.

“Oh God, I’ll never be a size 4! Why would I want to do that, and be that?” she says, adding while gesturing toward her bicep, “This is me, and this is my weapon and machine. But I love that I said that, because I can understand.”

“I can show Olympia that I struggled, but now I’m happy with who I am and what I am and what I look like,” continues the sports star. “Olympia was born and she had my arms, and instead of being sad and fearful about what people would say about her, I was just so happy.”

Serena Williams covers Harper's Bazaar's July issue
Courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK/Richard Phibbs

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The million-dollar question: Will Olympia be getting a sibling from her mom and dad Alexis Ohanian? “If I wasn’t playing tennis, I’d be pregnant right now – sorry, I’m one of those women,” Williams says with a laugh. “I’ve been injured so many times, and played on it, my body is used to adjusting.”

“I told Alexis, I hope it’s another girl. Olympia needs a little sister, and then we can have a boy,” she shares. “I’ve only been around girls my whole life.”

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