Serena Williams is currently making her comeback at the French Open after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, nine months ago. With motherhood, Williams has become an advocate for women’s health by sharing intimate details of her personal life including her struggle with postpartum depression.
“I think people need to talk about it more because it’s almost like the fourth trimester, it’s part of the pregnancy,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said in a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
“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.”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research, nationally, about 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Estimates also vary by state, and can be as high as 1 in 5 women.
Williams is speaking out about postpartum depression months after she almost lost her life during childbirth. She would have been one of the many Black mothers who have died in the U.S. from pregnancy.
Black women are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes than white women, according to the CDC.
“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia,” Williams wrote in a February op-ed for CNN.
She suffered a pulmonary embolism after an emergency C-section. As Williams has a medical history with the problem, she didn’t hesitate to inform hospital staff.
“When I fell short of breath, I didn’t wait a second to alert the nurses,” she wrote.
In the HBO documentary series, “Being Serena,” you see firsthand the tennis champion’s scare after giving birth, and the support of her husband, Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of the site Reddit.
Williams, whose self-confidence flourished despite the frequent brushes with racism and misogyny as she climbed the ranks of professional tennis, is advocating for healthy pregnancies and births for women around the world.
“Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth,” she wrote.
“How You can demand governments, businesses and health care providers do more to save these precious lives.”
Harper’s Bazaar asked Williams if she feels she’s a good mother.
“I do,” she responded. “I hope I am, and I’m going to strive to be the best mom I can be.”