Mom-to-be Serena Williams tells Vogue she plans to return to the court after the birth of her first child: "There’s no better feeling in the world"

By Jen Juneau
August 15, 2017 01:15 PM
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Mario Testino for Vogue

Serena Williams has a long history of setting the tennis world on fire, but her past accomplishments in the sport may be just the beginning.

The eight-months-pregnant athlete spoke to Vogue for its September issue about what impact impending motherhood will have on her game — and how her answer is different now than it was initially.

“I used to think I’d want to retire when I have kids, but no,” says Williams, 35, who won the Australian Open in January while pregnant. “I’m definitely coming back. Walking out there and hearing the crowd, it may seem like nothing. But there’s no better feeling in the world.”

“Obviously, if I have a chance to go out there and catch up with [Margaret Court], I am not going to pass that up,” she adds of the retired tennis legend’s 24 major titles (Williams is currently sitting at 23). “If anything, this pregnancy has given me a new power.”

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Mario Testino for Vogue

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Speaking of power, it’s a theme that is giving Williams a hunch that she and her fiancé, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, are expecting a daughter. But Ohanian has other ideas.

“Alexis thinks we’re having a boy, but I have a strong suspicion that it’s a girl,” she says (the couple have previously said they plan to keep the sex a surprise).

“Two weeks after we found out, I played the Australian Open. I told Alexis it has to be a girl because there I was playing in 100-degree weather, and that baby never gave me any trouble. Ride or die. Women are tough that way.”

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The pregnancy itself was also a surprise. And as a result of a 2011 incident in which she suffered bilateral pulmonary embolisms after foot surgery, Williams now needs to self-inject anticoagulants to prevent blood clots, which are more common during pregnancy.

“But once I found out, something happened that surprised me,” she says of learning she would be a mom. “I became really calm. I thought, ‘You have to win, but you’re allowed to lose, because you have something to look forward to.’ ”

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The mother-to-be is searching for a baby nurse who’s fluent in French, and plans to theme the nursery at least in part for France. There are two things she laments in being “nervous” about, though, that most first-time moms can probably relate to: childbirth itself, and whether she’ll be a good parent.

“I’m not a spring chicken. The one thing I really want is an epidural, which I know a lot of people are against, but I’ve had surgeries galore, and I don’t need to experience any more pain if I can avoid it,” Williams says.

“But the biggest thing is that I don’t really think I’m a baby person. Not yet. That’s something I have to work on,” she adds. “I’m so used to me-me-me, taking care of my health, my body, my career. I always ask, ‘Am I going to be good enough?’ “