Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most of any player in the Open Era, and the second-most of all time. Serena is, in fact, like every other mother on the planet. She recently opened up about nearly losing her life in September 2017 while giving birth to her daughter Olympia.

In a personal essay for Elle, the 23-time Grand Slam champion opened up about her traumatic birth experience with Olympia, whom she shares with husband Alexis Ohanian, as well as how she did not have a “connection” with her baby throughout her pregnancy.

“I was nervous about meeting my baby, throughout my pregnancy, I’d never felt a connection with her. While I loved being pregnant, I didn’t have that amazing ‘Oh my God, this is my baby’ moment, ever. It’s something people don’t usually talk about because we’re supposed to be in love from the first second.”

Serena, who added that she wasn’t “gushing” over her daughter, said she kept waiting to feel like she knew her, even reaching out to her mom and friends for advice, but that feeling never came until Olympia was born in September 2017.

“When I finally saw her—and I just knew it was going to be a girl, that was one thing I knew about her before we even had it confirmed—I loved her right away. It wasn’t exactly instantaneous, but it was there, and from that seed, it grew. I couldn’t stop staring at her, my Olympia.”

Serena was finally able to hold her baby, but things began to go downhill from there. Aside from being rushed into an emergency C-section when the baby’s heart rate continued to drop, the new mother had to demand that she be given extra medical attention after her stitches were reopened due to an uncontrollable cough that began after she gave birth.

“I spoke to the nurse. I told her: ‘I need to have a CAT scan of my lungs bilaterally, and then I need to be on my heparin drip.’ She said, ‘I think all this medicine is making you talk crazy.’ I said, ‘No, I’m telling you what I need: I need the scan immediately. And I need it to be done with dye.'”

Serena’s persistence prompted the nurse to summon a doctor, who discovered that she had a blood clot in her lungs that needed to be broken up before it reached her heart. This was a near-fatal situation that was thankfully avoided.

Serena was finally able to leave the hospital a week after giving birth after undergoing four surgeries. Even though the road to motherhood was difficult, the tennis player said it was worthwhile.

“Despite my body’s wreckage and the fact that I couldn’t get in much breastfeeding—connecting with Olympia at long last was amazing; it was both the reward and the validation for all I’d been through. I went from not being able to really imagine her in the womb to us being completely inseparable. I still feel like I have to be around her for every day of her life, as much as possible. I’m anxious when I’m not around her. Honestly, it’s a little much.”

Williams also provided a statistic and advice to anyone within the reach of her written words. This is also a sad reminder of so many inconsistencies in America’s health care system.

In the U.S., Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during or after childbirth than their white counterparts. Many of these deaths are considered by experts to be preventable. Being heard and appropriately treated was the difference between life or death for me; I know those statistics would be different if the medical establishment listened to every Black woman’s experience.

Serena is not only a fantastic player but also a wonderful mother. To get the latest updates, keep an eye on Thirsty.

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Shivangini Rawat

Shivangini is presently pursuing her LLB degree. She has a lot of dreams for the future, and she's working hard to achieve them. Thirstyfornews was one such chance that enabled her to take a step forward. Apart from her ambitions and academics, Shivangini enjoys cooking and baking. She is also a great music fan. Her favorite bands are Alcest, Thy Light, Scorpions, AC/DC, Motorhead. She also loves playing a variety of instruments. Movies, TV shows, and anime are always on her to-do list, especially on weekends.

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