Serena Williams details post-childbirth medical scare that lasted five days

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1132744/" data-ylk="slk:Serena Williams">Serena Williams</a> returned to the tennis court at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in late December. (Getty)
Serena Williams returned to the tennis court at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in late December. (Getty)

One day after giving birth to her daughter this past summer – the first day of a nearly week-long medical ordeal – Serena Williams needed blood thinners to treat clots in her lungs.

Williams revealed that, and the details of five more days of post-childbirth scares and pain, in a Vogue cover story published Wednesday.

Williams became short of breath a day after Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born via emergency C-section. Having suffered from blood clots before, she recognized the symptoms, and urged doctors to administer a CT Scan and give her an IV.

That, however, was only the beginning. Coughing fits, caused by the clotting in her lungs, re-opened the C-section wound. Williams underwent another surgery, only for doctors to find a large hematoma in her abdomen, a side-effect related to the blood thinner. She then had to go back for a third surgery to have a filter inserted into a major vein, a mechanism that would prevent further clotting.

The Vogue profile has the full details of the problems that arose. Williams, according to the story, couldn’t get out of bed for six weeks, despite returning home one week after giving birth.


The medical scare, naturally, delayed Williams’ return to the tennis court. She had originally targeted the Australian Open, which she won last year while pregnant. After playing (and losing) an exhibition match, though, she announced earlier this month that she had withdrawn from the first Grand Slam of 2018.

Now she’s aiming for March. But she’s also aiming higher.

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

That’s a reference to the 24 Slams won by Australian tennis legend Margaret Court, still the most by any individual, male or female. Williams is one behind Court, at 23. She should get her first shot at No. 24 at the French Open this spring.

She’s 36 years old, and has a ways to go to get back to the top of her game. But she is, after all, the greatest female tennis player ever. It would be foolish to doubt her, even if getting to 25 will be an uphill climb.

Plus, as she points out, “there hasn’t been a clear number one since I [went on leave]. It will be cool to see if I get there again, to what I call my spot – where I feel I belong. I don’t play to be the second-best or the third-best. If there’s no clear number one, it’s like, yeah, I can get my spot back. But if there is a clear number one, that’s cool, too, because it’s like, yeah, I’m gonna come for you.”

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