Having a Baby on the Tennis Tour is the Most Rebellious Thing I Could Do
January 11, 2018 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Serena Williams on her medical emergency after giving birth*, motherhood, and her new tennis goals

“I remember how stressed I was about getting to Grand Slam number eighteen, tying Chrissie and Martina,” she says. “I had lost every Grand Slam that year. I was in the U.S. Open, and Patrick [Mouratoglou], my coach, said, ‘Serena, this doesn’t make sense. You’re so stressed about eighteen. Why not 30? Why not 40?’ For me, that clicked. I won eighteen, nineteen, and 20 right after that. Why would I want to stand side by side when I can stand out on my own? I think sometimes women limit themselves. I’m not sure why we think that way, but I know that we’re sometimes taught to not dream as big as men, not to believe we can be a president or a CEO, when in the same household, a male child is told he can be anything he wants. I’m so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits.”

*Relatedly: How Hospitals Are Failing Black Mothers
posted by TwoStride (19 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Also adorable: Olympia tries to wriggle out of the baby gym, with its dumbbell-shaped rattles, but Serena says not so fast. “Some other seven-week-old is in the gym right now working,” she jokes.
posted by TwoStride at 4:20 PM on January 11, 2018 [13 favorites]

Such an amazing person/athlete. Thanks for sharing this profile of hers. Also, that cover is adorbs, such a cute baby.
posted by Fizz at 4:24 PM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

"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?"

OMG, wish I could have read this as a new mom. If Serena freakin Williams thinks this, it must be ok that I thought it.
posted by msbubbaclees at 5:16 PM on January 11, 2018 [45 favorites]

I had the chance to watch her practice at the Australian Open a few years ago. Not only did she put in WORK, but she listened to her teams feedback and acted on it; at no time did she act like the prototypical superstar. Ever since that day she’s been one of my favourite athletes to watch both on and off the court. PS: she whipped the 2 male hitting partners she was playing against, often at the same time
posted by matrixgeek at 5:41 PM on January 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

I just fucking love (read: viscerally hate and recoil at the thought) that an absolute top tier athlete who has had PEs before was ignored and dismissed when telling her physicians what she was feeling what she knew to be true.
Jesus fucking christ, when are you just going to shut up and listen, medical community?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:11 PM on January 11, 2018 [47 favorites]

She's tremendous.
posted by rtha at 6:33 PM on January 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Saw that this morning on twitter ... tangentially related...
posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:06 PM on January 11, 2018 [18 favorites]

I started work in the emergency department right after my morning sickness started and every time I would start to feel sorry for myself I would think: “Serena Williams won a fucking grand slam when she was eight weeks pregnant.” and I would get a little burst of energy. Serena is amazing, thanks for posting this.
posted by supercrayon at 8:10 PM on January 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

I have a blood clotting disorder, and have gone to the ER twice for suspected blood clots in the lungs - once it was a false alarm, once it was for a legit bad pulmonary embolism affecting both lungs. I also happen to be white.

Both times the hospital took it so, so incredibly seriously. All I needed to do was walk into the ER, tell the nurse processing people that I had pain in my chest and a history of blood clots, and boom - immediate front of the line, triage, into the CT scanner to check on my lungs. We're talking maybe 20 minutes, max, from the moment I walked in to when I was scanned. The second time (when I actually had the PE), I was also offered morphine immediately after the CT scan, which was great because it was the most painful thing I had ever experienced at the time.

The *moment* Serena Williams mentioned that she had pain in her lungs and a history of blood clots, her doctors should have acted to check her out. The fact that they didn't is the ugliest form of medical racism possible. They should all be so fucking ashamed of themselves.
posted by Jaclyn at 8:16 PM on January 11, 2018 [57 favorites]

I love Serena Williams more than a middle aged man should love any celebrity or athlete, but I can't help it. She has genuinely inspired me in the last, difficult year and watching her picks me up in low moments. To further illustrate: I play league tennis, and I play with a Blade. I love the racket, but when I chose it over the other demos, did it get a boost because it was Serena's model? Sure.

I had a PE in my lung 10 years ago, and like Jaclyn, they took it very seriously. But I have a typical Appalachian distrust of doctors and hospitals, and finding out that SERENA WILLIAMS, one of the greatest athletes in history who I'm positive knows the ins and outs of her body better than 99.9% of people on the planet ... that a doctor would dismiss her? It really just confirms everything I already think about doctors and the medical establishment.
posted by imabanana at 9:40 PM on January 11, 2018 [10 favorites]

Someone on twitter pointed out how odd it was how when Serena went to the nurse to tell her exactly what was going on and what she needed the nurse assumed she was confused by the drugs. What kind of drug haze is that? How can this persons judgement ever be trusted again?
posted by bleep at 9:53 PM on January 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

I love Serena Williams. I don't know how many times I've watched her in this recent video just KILLING IT to N.E.R.D.'s Lemon.
posted by like_neon at 1:47 AM on January 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

Greatest American athlete OF ALL TIME
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 6:44 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't know much about tennis but how can you not admire Serena Williams? She is fantastic. I love the public persona she has with articles like this in Vogue, Vanity Fair, etc.

I don't connect to tennis but I do connect to Reddit and her nerd husband Alexis Ohanian. That due married up, he is very fortunate. This article about how they fell in love is sweet.
posted by Nelson at 7:03 AM on January 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

As a woman, I know what it's like to be dismissed and ignored by doctors and nurses. I can only imagine how much worse it is for women of color. I'm so glad Serena is sharing her story.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:40 AM on January 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

What also surprises me is that it would seem even money can't get you good healthcare (I assume her health insurance plan must be 'the best you can get').
posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:50 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

WaterAndPixels, if Serena Williams had received competent care without having to fight tooth and nail, that would be the surprise in a nation whose healthcare is permeated by - nay, built upon - institutional racism & misogynoir. Being well-off, well-educated, and/or well-connected offers zero protection for women of color in the US.
posted by sutureselves at 8:21 AM on January 12, 2018 [9 favorites]

sutureselves, yeah you're right, but for some reason I thought a fair amount of money could get you healthcare that actually cared about you and listened to you, female or not, black or not... turns out its not the case.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 11:26 AM on January 12, 2018

The *moment* Serena Williams mentioned that she had pain in her lungs and a history of blood clots, her doctors should have acted to check her out. The fact that they didn't is the ugliest form of medical racism possible. They should all be so fucking ashamed of themselves.

They did act and check her out. They just started "lower" in the diagnostic flow with an ultrasound instead of jumping to the CT scan and Heparin drip that Williams asked for. Heparin at the wrong time (like soon after a cesarean section) can easily be a death sentence. In fact, in the a few paragraphs later its stated that she had some serious internal bleeding from the blood thinners.
posted by sideshow at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2018


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