Serena Williams Describes the Feeling of Trying to Balance Her Tennis Career and Caring for Her Children and Family as Standing at a Crossroads, Something Male Tennis Players Rarely Experience

Serena Williams Describes the Feeling of Trying to Balance Her Tennis Career and Caring for Her Children and Family as Standing at a Crossroads, Something Male Tennis Players Rarely Experience

In a self-penned article published in Vogue magazine in early August, tennis player Serena Williams revealed that she will retire from tennis after the upcoming US Open, according to the NY Times.

"I've never liked the word 'retire.' It's not a new word for me, perhaps the best word to describe me now is 'shift.' I'm here to tell you that I will shift from tennis to other important things in my life," she wrote.

Serena Williams began the article by talking about her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Olympia wants a little sister, and that's also the desire of her husband and her.

"Last year, my husband and I tried to have another baby. Recently, we received good news from the doctor that my health is assured for another pregnancy. However, I certainly don't want to be pregnant again as an athlete. It's either dedicating myself entirely to tennis or completely stepping away from it," the American tennis player said.

Maintaining a balance between her career and family responsibilities has put a lot of pressure on Serena. And eventually, she had to choose one over the other.

Being a mother and an athlete

In April 2017, Serena announced her pregnancy with a photo on Snapchat, accompanied by the hashtag #20weekspregnant. According to calculations by fans, the tennis player was about 8 weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open at the beginning of that year, meaning she was still competing while pregnant.

After giving birth to her first child, Serena spent the first 6 weeks as a mother in bed due to pulmonary embolism, which directly threatened her life.

Not long after recovering, she quickly made plans to return to the court and continued to achieve high honors. In other words, Serena returned to tennis not just to compete but to win.

Tennis is a sport that puts new mothers in a difficult position, as major tournaments around the world take place continuously throughout the year. However, the concern of returning to top-level competition was not Serena's biggest worry, as evidenced by her achievements.

"I once experienced a pulmonary embolism emergency and still entered a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I went through postpartum depression," she wrote.

In July 2018, Serena reached the Wimbledon final, less than a year after giving birth. Her little daughter, Olympia, was often present in the stands to cheer on her mother during matches.

Choosing one over the other

Like Serena, many female athletes still maintain their peak competitive careers after giving birth, continuing to be mothers while participating in sports.

In 1960, two years after giving birth to her daughter, track and field athlete Wilma Rudolph won 3 gold medals at the Rome Olympics. Soccer player Joy Fawcett continued to represent the national team in 3 FIFA World Cups in 1995, 1999, and 2003 after giving birth to 3 children.

Olympic swimmer Dara Torres returned to competition just a few weeks after giving birth in 2006, winning the national championship in the 100m freestyle in 2007 and earning 3 silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Most recently, track and field athlete Allyson Felix returned to the track and world-class competitions after emergency childbirth surgery in the 32nd week in 2018.

A few weeks ago, Felix participated in the world championships, and fans warmly welcomed her. Her daughter, Camryn, who was just learning to walk, was also present in the stands.

For the past 5 years, Williams said she has never been away from her daughter for more than 24 hours. But the tennis player wants to make one thing clear: the decision to retire from tennis is not an easy one, even something she doesn't want to do.

"Believe me, I've never wanted to choose between tennis and family. I don't think it's fair. If I were a man, I wouldn't write this because I would still be outside the court, swinging my racket, winning while my wife is responsible for taking care of the family," Serena expressed.

That's the case we can see in 36-year-old tennis player Rafael Nadal.

In June, Nadal announced that his wife, Maria Francisca Perello, is expecting their first child. In a press conference, Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, said, "I don't think having a child will affect or change many aspects of my professional tennis career."

As for Serena, she knows exactly how becoming a mother has changed her career. Serena mentioned the guilt she felt when focusing on tennis and having to spend less time with her daughter.

"I reluctantly admit to myself and others that I have to leave tennis. My husband and I rarely discuss this as if it were a taboo topic. I didn't even tell my parents. It's as if it wasn't real until you said it out loud. When it came up, I choked up and started to cry. I know many people are excited and looking forward to retirement and truly hope I feel the same way.

However, truthfully, I feel pain. It's the hardest thing I can imagine. I hate the feeling of standing at the crossroads. I keep telling myself that everything will be easy, but it's not. This sport has given me so much. I love the fight. I love the feeling of winning. I struggle; I don't want it to end, but at the same time, I'm learning to be ready for what's to come," she wrote.

"To compare, I have to sacrifice tennis to be a mother, even though it has always been my passion. But don't get me wrong, I love being a woman and cherish every moment of carrying Olympia," the tennis player concluded.

Previous Post Next Post