“I think people need to talk about it more because it’s almost like the fourth trimester, it’s part of the pregnancy.”
Tennis champ Serena Williams said she struggled with postpartum depression after giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
“Honestly, sometimes I still think I have to deal with it,” she said in a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK. “I think people need to talk about it more because it’s almost like the fourth trimester, it’s part of the pregnancy.”
The pressure of wanting to be a good mom, maybe to a fault, weighed on the new mother. “I remember one day, I couldn’t find Olympia’s bottle and I got so upset I started crying… because I wanted to be perfect for her,” she said.
The tennis superstar endured a complicated birth, which began with an emergency C-section, followed by more surgery for a pulmonary embolism and a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in her abdomen.
But now that she’s recovering—already winning matches in the French Open before she withdrew from the tournament due to a pectoral injury on Monday (June 4)—she’s putting family first, ahead of tennis, and working on being a good role model for 9-month-old Alexis Jr.
“I hope I am, and I’m going to strive to be the best mom I can be,” she said.
Part of what makes her a good role model is her healthy attitude toward body image—something that didn’t come easy. Williams, who started competing professionally as a teen, endured a lot of body shaming for much of her career.
“It was hard for me. People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “I was different to Venus: she was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular—and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different.”
She said in another interview, “People are entitled to have their opinions, but what matters most is how I feel about me, because that’s what’s going to permeate the room I’m sitting in. It’s going to make you feel that I have confidence in myself whether you like me or not, or you like the way I look or not, if I do.”
The 23-time Grand Slam champion is more focused on her daughter’s happiness. “I can show Olympia that I struggled, but now I’m happy with who I am and what I am and what I look like. Olympia was born and she had my arms, and instead of being sad and fearful about what people would say about her, I was just so happy.”