Serena Williams underwent multiple operations, spent six weeks in bed after childbirth

Serena Williams plays against Jelena Ostapenko during an exhibition match at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 30.
(Martin Dokoupil / EPA/Shutterstock)

Serena Williams underwent multiple surgeries soon after the birth of her daughter, and was unable to get out of bed for the next six weeks.

Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born Sept. 1 by emergency C-section after Williams’ heart rate went too low during contractions. Everything went fine during childbirth. The 36-year-old tennis superstar told Vogue about the incredible moment when the baby stopped crying as soon as she was placed upon the new mother’s chest.

“That was an amazing feeling,” Williams told the magazine in a November interview that will appear in the Febuary issue.

“And then everything went bad.”

The next day while still in the hospital, Williams suddenly fell short of breath. Because of her history with blood clots, she knew what was happening — a pulmonary embolism. A doctor eventually performed a CT scan, found several small clots in her lungs and put her on blood thinner.

The condition brought on some intense coughing spells, one of which cause her C-section wound to come open. During surgery to fix it, doctors discovered a large hematoma had flooded her abdomen as a result of hemorrhaging caused by the blood thinner.


Williams later had more surgery to insert a filter into a major vein, according to Vogue, a step taken to prevent further clots from dislodging and traveling to her lungs. She spent an extra week in the hospital following the baby’s birth, then was forced to spent the next month and a half in bed.

But Williams has long since gotten back on her feet and started working toward her tennis comeback. She took part in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi back in December but last week withdrew from the upcoming Australian Open. “After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be,” Williams said in a statement released by Australian Open organizers.

Williams needs just two more Grand Slam championships to break Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24, and she told Vogue she still has every intention of doing so.

“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams,” Williams said. “I’m well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It’s not a secret that I have my sights on 25.

“And actually, I think having a baby might help. When I’m too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born. Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match. I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don’t need them. That’s a different feeling for me.”

Twitter: @chewkiii