January 15, 2018 08:05 PM

Serena Williams thanked her fans on Facebook Monday after she opened up about her daughter’s labor and the difficult complications that followed afterward.

The tennis star, 36, shared an adorable new video of her 4-month-old daughter Alexis Olympia as well as a message about her birth story.

“I didn’t expect that sharing our family’s story of Olympia’s birth and all of the complications after giving birth would start such an outpouring of discussion from women — especially black women — who have faced similar complications and women whose problems go unaddressed,” Williams wrote.

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“These aren’t just stories: according to the CDC, (Center for Disease Control) black women are over 3 times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes,” she continued. “We have a lot of work to do as a nation and I hope my story can inspire a conversation that gets us to close this gap.”

Williams, who described how her daughter was born by emergency C-section in Vogue‘s cover story this month, added, “Let me be clear: EVERY mother, regardless of race, or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. I personally want all women of all colors to have the best experience they can have. My personal experience was not great but it was MY experience and I’m happy it happened to me. It made me stronger and it made me appreciate women — both women with and without kids — even more. We are powerful!!!”

She concluded, “I want to thank all of you who have opened up through online comments and other platforms to tell your story. I encourage you to continue to tell those stories. This helps. We can help others. Our voices are our power.”

Alexis Olympia was born without complications, however, it was after her birth that doctors found “several” small blood clots in Williams’ lungs.

Serena Williams/Instagram

 

The tennis champion’s C-section wound also opened up from her coughing, and when she went back in for surgery, a large hematoma was found in her stomach.

A week later, she was home — though was unable to get out of bed for six weeks and didn’t have a night nurse to help take care of her daughter.

“I was happy to change diapers,” now-husband Alexis Ohanian explained to Vogue. “But on top of everything she was going through, the feeling of not being able to help made it even harder. Consider for a moment that your body is one of the greatest things on this planet, and you’re trapped in it.”

RELATED VIDEO: Serena Williams Withdraws from Australian Open: ‘I’m Not Where I Want to Be’ After Baby’s Birth

But strength — a guiding principle in Williams’ life and one of the reasons she says she gave her daughter such a powerful name — carried the mother of one through. In November, she and Ohanian got married. And as millions of followers of the couple and their daughter see on Instagram, the family is doing well.

They’re even considering more children though, understandably, Williams is “in no rush.”

Until then, she and her daughter (whom she calls “Olympia” and Ohanian calls “Junior”) are remaining close. “We’re not spending a day apart until she’s 18,” Williams said, only half-joking.

 

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