Serena Williams opened up about her post-pregnancy issues and being an inspiration for mothers around the world after making her Grand Slam return at the French Open.
Veteran tennis star Serena Williams will hope to carry super hero powers into a French Open second round generational clash with Australia’s Ash Barty at Roland Garros on Thursday.
The 36-year-old said she felt like a “super hero” after defeating Kristyna Pliskova in her Tuesday return to grand slam action after giving birth to a daughter last September.
Williams was dressed in an all-black body suit as she overwhelmed the Czech 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to advance to the second round in her first match on clay for two years.
Her new attire gave Williams her super powers back as she said it was inspired by the blockbuster comic-book film Black Panther and added it displays a strong image of body confidence after becoming a mother.
“I feel like a warrior in it,” said Williams.
“Like a warrior princess queen from Wakanda (a reference to a fictional country in the movie). Although we designed it way before the movie, it kind of reminds me of that.
“I’m always living in a fantasy world. I always wanted to be a super hero, and it’s kind of my way of being a super hero.
“This suit represents all the women that have been through a lot mentally, physically with their body to come back and have confidence and to believe in themselves.”
The three-time Roland Garros champion had not played a major tournament match since winning the 2017 Australian Open – her 23rd grand slam – in the early stages of her pregnancy.
Williams next faces Barty, ranked 17, a player some 14 years her junior.
“She’s playing unbelievable, and she’s had such an amazing year last year and this year, as well,” Williams said. “So it will be a really good, another good show for me. She does everything great. I’ll be excited to go out and see what I can do.”
The former world number one has had her struggles after the birth with life-threatening blood clot complications and feels that mothers around the world should discuss this issue more, as she did in an exclusive interview with Vogue magazine in January.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t talk about it,” said Williams.
“They talk about the baby and how happy they are. But it’s a lot that goes into it with the pregnancy and with giving birth and it’s called a miracle for a reason, it’s very difficult sometimes to make it through. I really appreciate that now.
“I had a lot of problems with my blood clots and, I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months. I have been wearing pants in general a lot when I play so I can keep the blood circulation going.”
Williams said it was difficult to find the balance between her two lives as a tennis star and a mother, but will always make sure that mother-daughter bonding time is on the top of her agenda.
“Coming back from the physical of having a baby, at my age is never really easy,” she said.
“Emotionally I think it’s different, because I’m so emotionally attached to my daughter. I actually breast fed for a really long time, and so I just had this real connection with my daughter.
“I feel like in the beginning it was difficult to learn her nap schedules, even though she’s never on schedule, but at least I know that for certain parts of the day I’m spending all that time with her, because I don’t want her to ever feel like I’m not around.
“My priority is Olympia. No matter what. I have given tennis so much, and tennis has actually given me a lot, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
If Williams were to go on and win grand slam number 24 at the French Open, it would equal the all-time record for most major honours, bringing her level with Margaret Court, but Williams insists she is in no rush to achieve that target.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself as I normally do,” said Williams.
“I have been putting a lot of work in. I’m definitely here to compete and do the best that I can. Hopefully the results continue to show.”