Serena Williams called out the inconsistency between a new mother and a new father’s experience of being a working parent in her first interview since giving birth last September.
The tennis champion, who is featured on the cover of Vogue magazine with her daughter Olympia Ohanian Junior, lamented how ‘unfair’ it is that the physical toll of having a baby means women who want to return to work quickly, are not always able to do so.
The 36-year-old made reference to her male counterpart Roger Federer, who has two sets of twins.
“It’s so unfair,” she said. "He produced four babies and barely missed a tournament. I can’t even imagine where I’d be with twins right now. Probably at the bottom of the pool.”
Before the birth of her daughter, Williams told Vogue magazine last August about her “outrageous plan” to defend her title at the 2018 Australian Open in January - the tournament she won last year while nine-weeks pregnant (although no one knew at the time).
But last week, she announced she would not be playing in the tournament.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Despite having made a decision about the upcoming competition, the 23 Grand Slam winner is clear that she has no plans to retire anytime soon.
In fact she believes that having a baby will be the key to her success.
“When I’m too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born,” she told Vogue.
“Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match.”
Williams also shared details from her birth, and its no wonder that she needs more time to recover, as following a textbook pregnancy, Olympia had to be born by emergency Caesarean section when Williams’ blood pressure dropped dangerously low.
Williams then went on to suffer from blood clots in her legs and a pulmonary embolism, which caused her to have intense bouts of coughing that led to her C-section wound reopening.
When she returned to surgery, the doctors found that she had had a large hematoma [an abnormal collection of blood outside of a blood vessel] had flooded her abdomen.
Williams explains that while she is away from the court the other tennis dads have been supportive, including Stanislas Wawrinka who gave her a pair of Tod’s loafers and Novak Djokovic who sends articles about parenting.
And she shouldn’t worry about her professional reputation, as it seems her compatriots are in no doubt of her champion status - no matter how long she is away from the court for.
Back in August, Federer spoke to For The Win magazine about Williams’ break from tennis: “At this stage of her career, she should do whatever she wants to do... there’s no right or wrong for her, which is the best position you can be in ever as a professional athlete.
“If she comes back, people are over the moon. If she doesn’t, people will be over the moon for her as a mum.
“I think the tennis world is really excited for her to hear how she’s going to live her life as a mum and hopefully as a professional tennis player.”