New mom Serena Williams
The tennis star has defied haters by sharing her baby bliss with the world
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.