Serena Williams Talks Pregnancy
Serena Williams is talking life, love and tennis. In Vogue’s September issue, the tennis champ and mommy-to-be let us in on her pregnancy and what she is afraid about regarding motherhood, how she still working on perfecting her game while pregnant and her reaction to the negative comments that are made against her. She also opens up about fiance Alexis Ohanian and how she defines power. Check out a few exerts from the interview below.
On how she is still working on her tennis skills while being pregnant:
I learn by watching… Or I watch old matches of myself on the Tennis Channel. I hit amazing shots, and these girls are running them down and hitting winners, and I’m beginning to see why. It’s because I have patterns. I don’t want to say more than that. I don’t want these girls to read this article and get a leg up.
On why she was afraid to get pregnant:
This pregnancy was unexpected and accidental. But once I found out, something happened
that surprised me, I became really calm. I thought, you have to win, but you’re allowed to lose, because you have something to look forward to. ’I’m nervous about childbirth; I’m not a spring chicken.
The one thing I really want is an epidural, which I know a lot of people are against, but I’ve had surgeries galore, and I don’t need to experience any more pain if I can avoid it. But the biggest thing is that I don’t really think I’m a baby person. Not yet. That’s something I have to work on. I’m so used to me-me-me, taking care of my health, my body, my career. I always ask, am I going to be good enough?
On what she is having and her reasoning:
Alexis thinks we’re having a boy, but I have a strong suspicion that it’s a girl. Two weeks after we found out, I played the Australian Open. I told Alexis it has to be a girl because there I was playing in 100-degree weather and that baby never gave me any trouble. Ride or die. Women are tough that way.
On deciding when she should end her tennis career:
It’s hard to figure out what the end of your tennis career should look like. I used to think I’d want to retire when I have kids, but no. I’m definitely coming back. Walking out there and hearing the crowd, it may seem like nothing. But there’s no better feeling in the world. Obviously, if I have a chance to go out there and catch up with Margaret, I am not going to pass that up. If anything, this pregnancy has given me a new power.
On her relationship with the word power:
I think I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the idea of power, in the beginning I didn’t like it when they said that my sister and I were power players. I thought, I don’t hit as hard as a Monica Seles. In Australia last year, I read that Maria Sharapova’s backhand and forehand are as good as or better than mine, and that the only reason I win is that my serve is bigger. I was like, wait a minute, please. I place my serve.
And what about my volleys? My speed? I’m the player who’s hitting angles. I’m the player who moves you. I use my brain, and that’s really why I win. Not only me, but women in general sometimes feel that power is a bad word.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to feel differently about it. Power is beauty. Strength is beauty. So now on the court I want people to think that I’m powerful. But I also want them to be shocked at how I play. I want people to expect something, then get something different.
On the comments made by male tennis star John McEnroe:
Why the fixation on me playing dudes? It’s clear that men are stronger than women, and that’s just science. I’m very content to play on the women’s tour. John’s unapologetic, he says what he thinks, and people respect that about him. God forbid I do it, though.”
On displaying her anger:
I think people do love when I get angry—that’s when the crowd cheers the hardest. But now I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to be a mom next time I play. I need to not make the baby faces anymore.’
On the effects of her game face off of the court:
I feel like people think I’m mean. Really tough and really mean and really street. I believe that the other girls in the locker room will say, ‘Serena’s really nice.’ But Maria Sharapova, who might not talk to anybody, might be perceived by the public as nicer. Why is that? Because I’m black and so I look mean? That’s the society we live in. That’s life. They say African-Americans have to be twice as good, especially women. I’m perfectly OK with having to be twice as good.
On her finance Alexis:
Alexis is basically the guy I’ve always told my friends to look for, since I love to give advice, He’s
extremely smart but not a know-it-all. He’s curious about what he doesn’t know. Being a Jehovah’s Witness is important to me, but I’ve never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it. Alexis didn’t grow up going to any church, but he’s really receptive and even takes the lead. He puts my needs first.
On her plan B career:
My dad always told us to have a plan B. For me there was only one thing I connected to the way I’ve connected to tennis, and that’s been fashion. If you give me a garment, I can tell you what the fabric is, how it’s made, why something can or can’t be done because of the draping, et cetera. Who knows? Maybe I would have won more grand slams if I had been 100 percent tennis.
On her Vanity Fair cover:
I was really nervous about that shoot. I’ve not been that exposed, and I was unsure up until a couple of days before. But I’m happy with how raw and real it is. Being black and being on the cover was really important to me, the success of one woman should be the inspiration to another, and I’m always trying to inspire and motivate the black girls out there. I’m not a model. I’m not the girl next door. But I’m not
Actually, I look like a lot of women out there. The American woman is many women, and I think it’s important to speak to American women at a time when they need encouragement. I’m not political, but I think everyone is worried, to a degree.
On her plans to go right into tennis after giving birth:
It’s the most outrageous plan; I just want to put that out there. That’s, like, three months after I give birth. I’m not walking anything back, but I’m just saying it’s pretty intense.” In this game you can go dark fast. If I lose, and I lose again, it’s like, she’s done. Especially since I’m not 20 years old. I’ll tell you this much: I won’t win less. Either I win, or I don’t play.