New mom Ser­ena Wil­liams

The ten­nis star has de­fied haters by shar­ing her baby bliss with the world

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WE’RE used to see­ing her hoist­ing sil­ver­ware tri­umphantly into the air, one vic­to­ri­ous Grand Slam tour­na­ment af­ter the other.

But now Ser­ena Wil­liams has the great­est prize of all: a beau­ti­ful baby girl.

The 36-year-old power queen of ten­nis trum­peted news of Alexis Olympia Oha­nian’s ar­rival along with an adorable snap on In­sta­gram re­cently. And she and her fi­ancé, tech mil­lion­aire Alexis Oha­nian (34), are now get­ting to know their tiny daugh­ter in the seclu­sion of their West Palm Beach man­sion in Florida.

It hasn’t all been plain sail­ing for Ser­ena. In a video posted on so­cial me­dia she re­veals she suf­fered “a lot of com­pli­ca­tions” and spent six days in hos­pi­tal af­ter the birth – about twice as long as a nor­mal hos­pi­tal stay for new moms.

She doesn’t elab­o­rate on the dif­fi­cul­ties but re­veals that she had a tough preg­nancy and was ner­vous about child­birth.

“I’m not a spring chicken,” she’d said pre­vi­ously. “The one thing I re­ally want is an epidu­ral, which I know a lot of peo­ple are against, but I’ve had surg­eries ga­lore and I don’t need to ex­pe­ri­ence any more pain if I can avoid it.”

Dur­ing her preg­nancy the ath­lete had to in­ject her­self with an­ti­co­ag­u­lants daily to avoid blood clots be­cause of the bi­lat­eral pul­monary em­bolisms – blood clots in the lungs – she suf­fered six years ago.

Hap­pily, though, baby Alexis is here and mom and baby are do­ing fine. Ser­ena even posted a pic of her­self in her pre-preg­nancy denim shorts, show­ing she’s well on her way to get­ting back her fa­mously buff bod.

Yet not ev­ery­one is sup­port­ive of the ten­nis phe­nom­e­non. Ser­ena’s posts about her birth com­pli­ca­tions were met with plenty of cy­ber eye-rolling, with so­cial me­dia users ac­cus­ing her of ex­ag­ger­at­ing her labour is­sues.

“Oh good, another celebrity telling us how her preg­nancy, de­liv­ery and re­cov­ery are sooo much harder than any other woman’s has ever been since the be­gin­ning of time,” one said.

Then there have been the racist com­ments. “White men are no good for black women,” one troll said. Another sug­gested Alexis and Ser­ena had used their con­sid­er­able for­tune to buy a baby. “How’d they get a Chi­nese baby? Guess money buys ge­net­ics.”

This af­ter no­to­ri­ously out­spo­ken Ro­ma­nian ten­nis leg­end IIie Nas­tase made a much-criti­sised re­mark about Ser­ena and Alexis’ baby dur­ing the preg­nancy.

“Let’s see what colour it has,” he said. “Choco­late with milk?”

The In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Foun­da­tion (ITF) promptly an­nounced it would in-

ves­ti­gate Nas­tase’s be­hav­iour (he’s also made sex­ist re­marks about women play­ers), while Ser­ena re­sponded with a post on In­sta­gram.

“This world has come so far yet we have so much fur­ther to go,” she wrote. “I will con­tinue to take a stand and stand up for what’s right.”

Of course, lit­tle Alexis’ birth was also met with plenty of mes­sages of love and sup­port.

Bey­oncé took to In­sta­gram al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the birth, post­ing a stun­ning shot of Ser­ena in a flow­ing white dress, cap­tioned with a sim­ple, “Con­grat­u­la­tions, Ser­ena!”

Singer Ciara de­clared on Twit­ter how happy she was for the cou­ple while for­mer ten­nis No 1 Bil­lie Jean King tweeted, “Can’t wait to see you, hold your lit­tle girl and squeeze her tiny fingers + toes.”

FOR Ser­ena and Alexis, who be­came par­ents just days be­fore Hur­ri­cane Irma slammed into Florida, their daugh­ter is the lat­est chap­ter in a love story that ticks all the boxes. They got en­gaged in De­cem­ber last year af­ter meet­ing some 18 months ear­lier – and now that their beau­ti­ful baby girl is here they plan to marry as soon as pos­si­ble.

Alexis is the co-founder of Red­dit, a so­cial news web­site that de­scribes it­self as “the front page of the in­ter­net”, where users in­ter­act and re­spond to a range of top­ics that in­ter­est them.

To­day New York-born Alexis – who’s of Ger­man-Ar­me­nian de­scent – serves as the ex­ec­u­tive chair­per­son of the site, which boasts more than 234 mil­lion unique monthly users and is worth near- ly $2 bil­lion (R27 bil­lion).

Alexis is per­son­ally worth $9 mil­lion (R121,5 mil­lion) – small change com­pared with the $170 mil­lion (R2,3 bil­lion) for­tune Ser­ena has amassed.

The cou­ple met by chance at a ho­tel in Rome when Alexis, hung over from a night out on the town, sat down to break­fast at a ta­ble re­served for Ser­ena and her posse.

Af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt at get­ting him to va­cate the ta­ble – he was wear­ing ear­phones – Ser­ena re­lented and asked him to join them.

Alexis re­calls telling his fu­ture fi­ancée about Red­dit and even though Ser­ena knew noth­ing about it, she po­litely acted as if she did. Alexis in turn wasn’t much of a ten­nis fan.

“I’d never watched a match on tele­vi­sion or in real life,” he told Van­ity Fair ear­lier this year.

De­spite their ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences they kept in touch, and Ser­ena in­vited Alexis to watch her play at the 2015 French Open.

But while in Paris the ten­nis ace did more than earn her 20th Grand Slam ti­tle – she also spent six hours me­an­der­ing through the al­ley­ways of the City of Love with her new beau.

Alexis claims he knew Ser­ena would be his wife af­ter she called him to wish him a happy 33rd birth­day last year. The Wil­liams fam­ily are strict Je­ho­vah’s Wit­nesses and part of the re­li­gion’s be­liefs is that you don’t cel­e­brate birth­days.

“I felt like a door had been opened to a per­son who made me want to be my best self,” Alexis says. “I find my­self just want­ing to be bet­ter by sim­ply be­ing around her be­cause of the stan­dard she holds.”

A month af­ter he pro­posed they found out they were ex­pect­ing a baby – some­thing that took them com­pletely by sur­prise.

By the end of last year she’d been ranked No 1 in the world for longer than any­one other than St­effi Graf and Martina Navratilova, and was the hot favourite to win any tour­na­ment she en­tered.

But as she started train­ing for the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary this year Ser­ena felt a lit­tle off kil­ter phys­i­cally. She’d thrown up at one point and her breasts had be­come big­ger and so, at a friend’s in­sis­tence, she de­cided to take a preg­nancy test.

“I did a dou­ble take and my heart dropped,” she re­calls on see­ing the pos­i­tive re­sult. “How am I go­ing to play the Aus­tralian Open? I’d planned on win­ning Wim­ble­don this year.”

Ser­ena broke the news to Alexis by hand­ing him a pa­per bag con­tain­ing the six pos­i­tive preg­nancy tests she’d taken – con­vinced each time the re­sult would be neg­a­tive.

Al­though she didn’t get to Wim­ble­don, newly preg­nant Ser­ena was un­touch­able at the Aus­tralian Open, de­feat­ing her sis­ter Venus (37) in the fi­nal in straight sets.

NOW her daugh­ter has ar­rived, could Ser­ena be con­sid­er­ing the dreaded “R word”? Not a chance – re­tire­ment isn’t even a blip on her radar yet.

De­spite her age – any­thing over 30 is con­sid­ered over the hill in pro­fes­sional women’s ten­nis – Ser­ena vows to be back on court by Jan­uary.

“I used to think I’d want to re­tire when I have kids, but no. I’m def­i­nitely com­ing back,” she told Van­ity Fair. “Walk­ing out there and hear­ing the crowd, it might seem like noth­ing. But there’s no bet­ter feel­ing in the world.

“If any­thing, this preg­nancy has given me a new power.”

But for now Ser­ena – who dur­ing her preg­nancy ac­knowl­edged she wasn’t re­ally a “baby per­son” – is fo­cused on “grand slam­ming” moth­er­hood.

“That’s some­thing I have to work on. I’m so used to me-me-me, tak­ing care of my health, my body, my ca­reer.”

Still, this is a woman who ex­cels at ev­ery­thing she does. No doubt moth­er­hood – while it’s no straight-set dod­dle – will be some­thing she aces too. SOURCES: VANITYFAIR.COM, CNBC.COM, DAI­LY­MAIL.CO.UK, EX­PRESS. CO.UK, WIKIPEDIA.ORG

BE­LOW LEFT: The first pic on Alexis Olympia Oha­nian’s own In­sta­gram page. BE­LOW: Ser­ena posted this snap to In­sta­gram soon af­ter her lit­tle girl was born.

Ser­ena and fi­ancé Alexis Oha­nian at the Met Gala in New York ear­lier this year.

ABOVE LEFT: Ac­tress Eva Lon­go­ria, singer Ciara, Ser­ena, ac­tress Lala An­thony, so­cialite Angie Bey­ince and singer Kelly Row­land strike a pose at Ser­ena’s ’50s-themed baby shower. ABOVE RIGHT: Ser­ena shows off her post-baby body in a Snapchat video soon af­ter the birth.

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