The tennis champion is gracing the cover of the latest issue of Time, in which she weighs in on balancing motherhood with a career, feeling guilty about using a waist trainer to get back into shape after giving birth, and marrying “nerd” Alexis Ohanian in November.
“I always assumed I’d marry a black guy,” Williams says about her marriage to the Reddit co-founder, who keeps a PlayStation near their daughter’s playpen. “I always felt that I could relate more with a black guy, that we’d have more struggles in common, you know?”
But the couple have found domestic bliss and try to maintain a work-life balance by ditching their cell phones on Sunday. Raising a baby while keeping up her tennis training — the 36-year-old made it to the Wimbledon women’s final in July, just months after giving birth — is a more challenging, and emotionally wrenching, matter.
That’s meant no longer breastfeeding her 11-month-old, on the advice of tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
“It’s absolutely hard to take from a guy,” Williams told Time about giving up her “magical superpower” ahead of the French Open. “He’s not a woman, he doesn’t understand that connection, that the best time of the day for me was when I tried to feed her. I’ve spent my whole life making everyone happy, just servicing it seems like everyone. And this is something I wanted to do.”
“I felt the decisions were taken through the angle of the family, where before every decision was taken through the angle of tennis,” Mouratoglou told the magazine. “This is a big difference. Even if you are Serena, if you want to be successful in tennis, tennis has to be priority No. 1.”
Ultimately, Williams acquiesced after “talking it out” with Olympia. Weeks later, she was in the Wimbledon finals, inspiring moms the world over.
“I dedicated that to all the moms out there who’ve been through a lot,” she told Time of her post-baby comeback. “Some days, I cry. I’m really sad. I’ve had meltdowns. It’s been a really tough 11 months. If I can do it, you guys can do it too.”
Williams — who was on bed rest for six weeks after Olympia’s birth, following blood clots and a large hematoma — also spoke of her insecurity about doing right by her daughter.
“Sometimes she just wants Mommy, she doesn’t want anyone else,” she said. “I still have to learn a balance of being there for her, and being there for me. I’m working on it. I never understood women before, when they put themselves in second or third place. And it’s so easy to do. It’s so easy to do.
“I didn’t think I’d be this attached,” she added. “It’s difficult to leave her.”
And yet tennis is still hugely important.
“I need to be more selfish for just those couple of days,” she said about prepping for a recent match. “I keep telling myself she’s not going to remember that I spent an extra two hours with her. I should be taking that two hours and focusing on my career.”
Bottom line: “I’m not done yet, simple … my story doesn’t end here.”
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- Jessie James Decker called ‘selfish’ for drinking while breastfeeding: ‘You’re poisoning your baby with alcohol’