How Serena Williams Saved Her Own Lifeà

'Put that drink down' Serena Williams reacts after Will Smith hits Chris Rock at Oscars

 

My body has belonged to tennis for so long. I gripped my first racket at age 3 and played my first pro game at 14. The sport has torn me up: I’ve rolled my ankles, busted my knees, played with a taped-up Achilles heel, and quit midgame from back spasms. I’ve suffered every injury imaginable, and I know my body.

 

 

 

When I found out I was pregnant two days before the 2017 Australian Open, my body had already switched allegiances. Its purpose, as far as it was concerned, was to grow and nurture this baby that had seemingly materialized, unplanned. Being pregnant wasn’t something I could tell Alexis over the phone; I told him to fly out to Melbourne right away. When he got here, I handed him a paper bag filled with six positive pregnancy tests I had taken all in one afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Of course, being pregnant didn’t mean I couldn’t play tennis. I was scheduled to compete at eight weeks along. I wasn’t sure how the Open would go; during training, I was getting more fatigued between points. Each morning—and I’m not a morning person to begin with—I was still determined to play fast and hard before the Melbourne heat socked me. I won seven matches, all in straight sets.

 

 

 

 

Since I’ve had my baby, the stakes of the game have shifted for me. I have 23 Grand Slams to my name, more than any other active player. But winning is now a desire and no longer a need. I have a beautiful daughter at home; I still want the titles, the success, and the esteem, but it’s not my reason for waking up in the morning. There is more to teach her about this game than winning. I’ve learned to dust myself off after defeat, to stand up for what matters at any cost, to call out for what’s fair—even when it makes me unpopular. Giving birth to my baby, it turned out, was a test for how loud and how often I would have to call out before I was finally heard.

 

 

 

 

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