How Serena Williams rewrote the playbook for female athletes juggling motherhood and sport
The former tennis star and mother of three has helped bring the issues of athletic competition and motherhood out of the shadows to become a household name.
Serena Williams has transformed herself from a household name into a household word, a role model to millions of women and a role model to millions of athletes. The 28-year-old athlete is considered by many to be the most successful athlete in modern tennis history.
But even she has had to confront the realities of motherhood in the public eye. Williams recently revealed that she began her relationship with husband Alexis Ohanian on Instagram — which in and of itself is a bold move for an athlete — and that the pair met in person in 2012, after Ohanian’s dating site was hacked.
“I was sitting at home in New York,” Williams recalled in an interview with TIME, “and I just felt like I wanted to share a story about the world that I see and know. About some of the things that I’ve experienced. About the things that I’ve experienced when I wasn’t a mom.”
In the years since its creation, Williams’s Tumblr page has become a global phenomenon for women wanting to make their voices heard on a wide range of subjects, including politics, family and mental health, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There have been no shortage of women’s issues Williams has dealt with, from postpartum depression to domestic violence, sexual assault and rape, bullying and cyberbullying. But she is now dealing with the same issue she has dealt with throughout her career — the battle she has had to have with her athletic talent as the face of the sport.
There are other female athletes who have struggled with the battle. Most, though, have tried to ignore their talent and do a good job as mothers, and Williams has not. But her success is perhaps what has allowed her to overcome the challenges she’s faced, by using her platform and her success as a role model for others.
When she was young, Williams’s mother was very supportive of her sport, which is why she says she never had to deal with any of the