Following an emotional and exciting victory this weekend, Serena Williams celebrated winning her first title since giving birth to her daughter in 2017 by making a thoughtful donation to a cause that is in dire need of help and awareness right now.
On Sunday, Jan. 12, Williams won the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand against fellow American Jessica Pegul, and it was an emotional moment for the tennis star. "Oh, it feels good! It's been a long time," she told CNN in a post-win interview. "I think you could see the relief on my face. It's pretty satisfying just to get a win in the final. That was really important for me, and I just want to build on it. It's just a step towards the next goal."
Williams accepted her trophy with her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., in her arms and announced that she would donate her $43,000 winnings to Australian bushfire relief, according to Harper's Bazaar. "I’ve been playing Australia for over 20 years and it’s been really hard for me to watch all the news and everything that’s been happening in Australia with all the fires and over a billion animals and people who have lost their homes," Williams said following her win, as Forbes reported. "So I decided that I would donate all my prize money for a great cause.”
Williams also announced that she and fellow tennis greats like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are planning to play at a charity event to raise more funds to help combat the devastating wildfires currently ravaging Australia, an environmental crisis the tennis star said she was "heartbroken over" in an emotional post on Instagram urging people to donate to relief efforts.
Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian Sr., welcomed their daughter back in September 2017. At the time, the tennis star had a reputation of being close to unstoppable, even winning the Australian Open in April 2017 while she was pregnant with her little girl, according to The Guardian. After Williams gave birth, however, things changed a bit. Despite the fact that she wrote in an essay for CNN in September 2018 that she nearly died giving birth to Olympia, she returned to the sport she loved a mere six months after becoming a mother.
While her performance remained impressive, she didn't simply bounce back as society so often expects a mother to do. In fact, Williams opened up about her struggles to return to the sport in an interview with The Thirty in July 2018. "I just feel like this whole story about having a baby and then coming back two days after and looking better than before is not teaching the right way or the natural way or the believable way," she said at the time. "Like maybe that happened to one person, but let me tell you, that didn’t happen to me. So that really frustrates me. I just want to straighten that record that it takes time, and it’s okay. I’m playing in Grand Slams with a tummy, and I’m okay. It’s just how my body is. My intestines are still trying to get back in place. That’s my whole attitude. It’s normal to be a woman and not come back in a week."
Instead, it took her nearly two more years to officially win another title. And the length of her journey was clearly not lost on Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slams in her career. Williams is clearly on the road to recovery after giving birth and the fact that it has taken several years to win a title will hopefully come as a comfort to moms out there who feel like they need to bounce back immediately.