I can't imagine there is anyone in this world who doubts the fierceness that is Serena Williams. The tennis star and general badass female has built a solid reputation for herself as a person of strength, of perseverance and determination. But she's still just a human. And now that she's a mom, it seems she is paying attention to the realities of being human and sometimes just needing a minute to listen to her body. Serena Williams' withdrawal from the Australian Open in 2018 should act as a message to all moms, famous and not-so-famous. That it's not only perfectly alright to pay attention to your body and the way it changes after having a baby, but to allow yourself room to grow into your new role in a timeline that works for you.
Williams gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., her first child with fiance (now husband) and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, back in September. When her baby was less than four months old, she tried to return to tennis at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi . And the 23-time grand slam winner, the same woman who won her 23rd grand slam at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant for her child, made a discovery; she simply wasn't ready.
As CNN reported, the tennis star announced after playing in the tournament in Abu Dhabi:
After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be. My coach and team always said 'only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.' I can compete -- but I don't want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time. With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I've decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year.
Williams' decision to take some time to get into better condition, or at least to get to a place where she feels more confident performing, is actually fairly momentous. Especially when the internet fairly exploded with joy at the news that she won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant.
After all the accolades and the compliments and the claims that Williams was the "greatest athlete of all time," the pressure to come back and perform would have been overwhelming for anyone. So for Williams to come back after giving birth and admit so openly that she simply wasn't ready? This is the sort of behavior stressed-out moms who so often forget to take time for themselves in their elusive effort to do everything perfectly should be paying attention to, in my opinion. That no matter who you are, what condition you're in, and what sort of expectations might be out there for you; you get to decide what your body might be able to do. And nobody else. Especially after you've given birth to a whole entire human.
Naturally, Williams is not throwing in the towel. As she noted in her statement about withdrawing from the Australian Open this year:
However, the memory of last year’s Open is one that I will carry with me and Olympia and I look forward to coming back again. I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open.
Last year was a busy year for Serena Williams; she became a mother for the first time, got engaged and then got married. Life is looking pretty good for the tennis star these days... and it looks like she's allowing herself a minute to enjoy it.
Good for her.