How Serena Williams rewrote the playbook for female athletes juggling motherhood and sport
Serena Williams may have been the greatest player on the planet. She was a champion, winning four Olympic gold medals and scoring the most points on the tennis court. Her game was elegant and cerebral, and she was celebrated even after her career was over. Then she got pregnant — and everything changed.
Williams made history during her time in the spotlight. She became the first woman to win the US Open, was voted world No. 1 by Tennis Magazine and appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. Her reputation was on the line. She had to decide whether to be the first mother in the history of the sport, or become a role model for young girls.
With her Olympic gold, she decided to be the face of tennis. Williams did not have to look far — her own mother was one of the earliest supporters of her daughter’s career. But it was more than her mother that helped her take the step that changed her life.
Williams became a mother. The new mother was not only a tennis player — she was also a teacher and coach. Her mother, Barbara, now 82, is now going on the road to raise awareness of the issues facing young women in sports, particularly around the world, and to educate women on what it means to have a career and a family.
“I think it’s the hardest, most rewarding thing I’ve ever been put through,” Williams said.
She was a coach — a professional athlete who, on her own time, helped the general public understand her position as a young mother and helped millions of women across tennis and sports around the world find their own inner confidence and courage.
Now, Williams, who turns 50 in October, is turning her experience to help other women.
“I feel so proud to be able to tell anyone that I’ve been through it,” Williams said. “It’s what I love and what I do. I want to help give you the same opportunity that I had to succeed on the tennis court, but on the professional and personal level. I think it’s a great thing, just being able to be a mother and be a role model for all the young girls out there, too. I think it’s a great thing for any woman who is going to go through that.”
She’s right there with her daughter,