There doesn't seem to be much that Serena Williams can't do. The 36-year-old has won a plethora of tennis championships, snagged an invite to the royal wedding, and seems to be crushing motherhood as well. However, that doesn't mean it's all been easy. In fact, Serena Williams opened up about why she stopped breastfeeding her daughter and it was clearly a decision that took a lot of reflection. But in the end, Williams decided to do what was best for herself, her baby girl, and her family.
As fans of Williams know, the tennis star, who has been regarded as the greatest player of all time on numerous occasions, took a recent break from the game while she was pregnant with her first child, starting back in 2017. But now she's back and she's totally crushing it just like she was before she gave birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian on Sept. 1, 2017, according to Vogue. Unfortunately, Williams' birth wasn't especially easy and she suffered plenty of health complications along the way.
But now what she and her baby girl are healthy, Williams has been opening up about the other struggles that come with being a mom. Namely, breastfeeding. Because even though it's her decision, Williams knows that many women face intense criticism for stopping breastfeeding, and her openness and honesty about her own decision is truly refreshing.
In her HBO documentary, Being Serena, it's clear that Williams isn't afraid to talk about her choices and all the ups and downs that motherhood brings. And when you're also an athlete, some of motherhood's most prominent challenges have to do with getting back into shape after giving birth. According to Yahoo! News, even though she was "exercising before her return, Williams weighed 205 pounds" and "her body was storing fat to produce milk for her baby." It was taking a toll on her performance on the tennis court, so she had to make a decision. According Yahoo! News, Williams explained in the HBO documentary of her decision to stop breastfeeding:
The truth is I miss my body, being able to do other kinds of amazing things. I miss playing tennis. Mostly, I miss winning. Winning's always been the way I define myself, and I want it to stay that way for a long time. Long enough for you to be able to watch me, cheer me on, and be proud of me.
Truly, that decision couldn't have been an easy one for the dedicated mom, who has also spoken passionately about the merits of breastfeeding.
Indeed, in addition to explaining her decision to stop breastfeeding her daughter, Williams also spoke about how much she loved nursing Olympia, further showing that it's never an easy decision for a mom to have to make. According to Yahoo! News, Williams explained in the documentary:
Breastfeeding is an incredibly personal thing. The connection that it gives me to Olympia — it's been one of the most magical things I've ever experienced.
She also elaborated on her choice to stop nursing in a recent interview with Harper's Bazaar U.K. and gave another practical reason for her decision to stop breastfeeding. "If I'm in the locker-room pumping before my match, that's crazy!" she told the publication.
Williams' choice to stop breastfeeding baby Olympia clearly wasn't one that was easy to make, something plenty of other moms can definitely understand. In fact, Williams also revealed that even thinking about giving up breastfeeding was making her emotional. Taking to Twitter back in December, Williams wrote, "Fellow moms: How long did you breastfeed? Is it weird that I get emotional when I even just think about when it's time to stop?"
Given that she's a professional athlete, whether or not Williams could continue to breastfeed is certainly complex. But her honesty on her own choice is so necessary and likely refreshing for moms struggling with the same decision to hear. These days, being a mom often comes with mom-shaming and plenty of it. So Williams letting the world know that she isn't breastfeeding anymore is both bold and encouraging. Not every mom can, or may want to, and that's OK.