When the demands of motherhood meet the sacrifices required to be a professional athlete, choices need to be made.
When the demands of motherhood meet the sacrifices required to be a professional athlete, choices need to be made.


Serena Williams' journey into motherhood has been no walk in the park. After a relatively easy pregnancy, she required an emergency C-section after her baby's heart rate began to fall dangerously low during contractions. The day after giving birth to her healthy daughter, Alexis Olympia, Williams suffered several blood clots in her lungs. The pulmonary embolism caused severe coughing, which resulted in the opening of her surgical wound.

While in surgery, her doctors discovered life-threatening bleeding in her abdomen. However, in true Serena style, she took it all in stride and recovered quickly.

The 36-year-old tennis legend has been very open with the media about the ups and downs of motherhood. While she is madly in love with her daughter, she does not shy away from discussing how difficult becoming a mom has been.

Related: Serena Williams' Birth Complications Shed Light on Broken System

"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," Williams told Vogue.

She is now opening up about her decision to stop breastfeeding when Olympia was six months old. The dedicated mom has been known to pump her breast milk before getting on the court to play tennis. "I'm in the locker room pumping before a match because my boobs are so big," she said in an interview with In Style. "When I pump, they go down a size or two and I go out and play. It's crazy."

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On the final episode of her HBO documentary, Being Serena, Williams discusses breastfeeding with her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. Knowing that Williams wants to win Wimbledon and understanding that holding on to additional weight would work against her on the court, her coach told her, "There is no miracle. You stop breastfeeding."

Later in the episode, Williams discusses her feelings with husband, Alexis Ohanian. "My whole fear is that I'm going to hold her and then she's going to turn to me, and I'm not going to have any milk. It's going to literally break my heart."

In a pre-Wimbledon London news conference on Sunday, Williams opened up to reporters about her genuine struggle. Despite a rigorous training schedule and eating a sugar-free, vegan diet, she was unable to lose the excess weight. She joked that it was a "lie" that women lose weight when breastfeeding.

Related: Does Motherhood Make a Real Woman?

"What I've learned through the experience - everybody is different, every person is different, every physical body is different," she said. "For my body, it didn't work, no matter how much I worked out, no matter how much I did, it didn't work for me."

Once Williams stopped breastfeeding she immediately dropped 10 pounds, and the weight continued to fly off. "It was crazy. I just kept dropping. That's when I learned that everything was different," she continued. "Sorry to go on about that, but I wanted to say that so women out there know that's not true. Everyone takes things different. I think it's important for us to share that message."

Williams initially planned to breastfeed until her daughter was three months old, but once that time came, she kept going. When Olympia turned six months old, Williams says she felt emotionally ready to stop nursing.

"I literally sat Olympia in my arms, I talked to her, we prayed about it," she said. "I told her, 'Look, I'm going to stop. Mommy has to do this.' I cried a little bit, not as much as I thought I was. She was fine."