World number one tennis player Serena Williams has revealed she is 20 weeks pregnant with her first child, meaning she won this year’s Australian Open while almost two months into her term.
Williams posted, and then subsequently deleted, an image on social media displaying her baby bump with the caption “20 weeks” before later confirming that she was indeed expecting.
Williams won the Australian Open in January, the 23rd Grand Slam singles victory of her career, without dropping a set. With the announcement that her first child is due in the Autumn, Williams completed the feat whilst approximately eight weeks pregnant.
It was the latest surprise announcement in Williams personal life after she unexpectedly revealed she was engaged to her partner, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, in December 2016.
“if serena wants to come back after having a baby she’s proved age is not a big factor” – pam shriver
Williams has not played tennis since winning the Australian Open, citing a knee problem. It is unclear whether or not that injury was, in fact, genuine or whether Williams had curbed her activity due to her pregnancy.
Speculation had mounted that, at the age of 35, the birth of her first child would bring an end to Williams glittering career. But, according to her spokesperson, the American fully intends to resume her career in 2018 and will hope to emulate Margaret Court, whose record of 24 Grand Slam titles Williams is one short of equaling. Court went on to win three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in 1973, a year after giving birth for the first time.
“If Serena wants to come back after having a baby I think she’s proved age is not a big factor for her”, said former player turned pundit Pam Shriver.
Williams achievement has been hailed as remarkable by some medical professionals.
“It is not easy for any woman to adapt to changes in her body, let alone while playing an elite sport”, said Dr Markos Klonizakis of Sheffield Hallam University.
“The nature of a grand slam tournament, where players have to recover to play consecutive matches, would have been a challenge for her if you take into account the nausea as well.”
But Williams’ physical performance may, in fact, have been aided, according to Professor Janice Raymer of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
“During the first weeks of pregnancy hormones may actually boost physical performance as a woman’s natural production of steroids can increase slightly.
“High levels of exercise at eight weeks gestation should not affect pregnancy for those used to those high levels.”
—Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)