Serena Williams Covers ‘Vogue’ With Daughter Alexis, Opens Up About Postpartum Complications

Serena Williams revealed in her new cover story for Vogue that she suffered two months of complications after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Jr., last September.

The 36-year-old tennis pro said in the magazine’s February 2018 issue that she had an easy pregnancy, but had to undergo an emergency C-section due to her baby girl’s low heart rate during contractions. The next day, Williams felt short of breath and assumed she was having a pulmonary embolism because of her history with blood clots. She underwent a CT scan and several small clots were found in her lungs. “I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!” she recalled telling the medical team.

Serena Williams and Alexis Vogue Cover

The six days that followed were even more harrowing. Williams’ C-section wound popped open and doctors found that a large hematoma had flooded her abdomen. When she finally returned home after several surgeries, she was unable to get out of bed for six weeks.

“I was so happy to change diapers, but on top of everything she was going through, the feeling of not being able to help made it even harder,” the athlete’s husband, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, told Vogue.

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian Jr. cover Vogue’s February 2018 issue.
Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian Jr. cover Vogue’s February 2018 issue. Mario Testino

Since then, motherhood has been trying — but rewarding, of course. “Sometimes I get really down and feel like, ‘Man, I can’t do this,’” Williams explained. “It’s that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that’s just who I am. No one talks about the low moments — the pressure you feel, the incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry. I’ve broken down I don’t know how many times. Or I’ll get angry about the crying, then sad about being angry, and then guilty, like, ‘Why do I feel so sad when I have a beautiful baby?’ The emotions are insane.”

Despite a rough start, the four-time Olympic gold medalist has nothing but love for Alexis Jr., whom she calls Olympia (the baby’s middle name) while Ohanian prefers Junior. “We’re not spending a day apart until she’s 18,” Williams told the publication. “Now that I’m 36 and I look at my baby, I remember that this was also one of my goals when I was little, before tennis took over, when I was still kind of a normal girl who played with dolls.”

Williams was forced to pull out of the Australian Open due to her medical gantlet, but she’s looking forward to getting back on the tennis court. “There hasn’t been a clear No. 1 since I was there,” she mused. “It will be cool to see if I get there again, to what I call my spot — where I feel I belong.”

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