Williams didn't have an easy childbirth. After her C-section surgery, she had a coughing fit that made her stitches burst and she had to undergo multiple surgeries.
Serena Williams is recalling the moment she first met her daughter Olympia.
In a personal essay for Elle, the 40-year-old tennis star opened up about her harrowing childbirth experience and revealed that she initially didn't form a connection with her daughter, now 4, until after she gave birth.
"I was nervous about meeting my baby. Throughout my pregnancy, I'd never felt a connection with her," Williams wrote. "While I loved being pregnant, I didn't have that amazing Oh my God, this is my baby moment, ever. It's something people don't usually talk about because we're supposed to be in love from the first second."
"Yes, I was a lioness who would protect her baby at any cost, but I wasn't gushing over her," she continued. "I kept waiting to feel like I knew her during pregnancy, but the feeling never came. Some of my mom's friends told me they didn't feel the connection in the womb either, which made me feel better, but still, I longed for it."
But the connection was finally established after Olympia was born in September 2017. The athlete shares her daughter with her husband, Alexis Ohanian.
"When I finally saw her — and I just knew it was going to be a girl, that was one thing I knew about her before we even had it confirmed — I loved her right away," Williams wrote in her essay. "It wasn't exactly instantaneous, but it was there, and from that seed, it grew. I couldn't stop staring at her, my Olympia."
Williams also wrote about the fact that she didn't have an easy childbirth. After her C-section surgery, she had a coughing fit. "The nurses warned me that coughing might burst my stitches, but I couldn’t help it. The coughs became racking, full-body ordeals. Every time I coughed, sharp pains shot through my wound." The reason for all these complications was multiple, life-threatening blood clots in her body, per PEOPLE.
“Giving birth to my baby was a test for how loud and how often I would have to call out before I was finally heard”— Dionne Grant (@DionneGrant) April 6, 2022
Black women are nearly three times more likely to die after childbirth than white women. Serena Williams in her own words for @ELLEmagazine https://t.co/2fH4EMThxL pic.twitter.com/b9TB1Pew91
The coughing did make her stitches burst after which she had to undergo a series of surgeries. While describing her struggles post-childbirth, Williams wrote, "In the span of seven days, I had gone through four surgeries back-to-back, including my C-section."
After her daughter's arrival, Williams told PEOPLE that though she felt lucky to be alive, what followed was six weeks in bed recovering, all while trying to adjust to motherhood.
"My whole life I've been physically pushing my body to the limits," she said. "And this is the one time where I couldn't control anything. I couldn't push my body. My body pushed to its maximum. That was so hard."
About the connection she feels with her daughter Olympia, Williams said, "I went from not being able to really imagine her in the womb to us being completely inseparable. I still feel like I have to be around her for every day of her life, as much as possible. I’m anxious when I’m not around her. Honestly, it’s a little much!"
She added, "This kid has me under her finger. I didn’t know what kind of mom I’d be, and I still don’t know. Instead, maybe for the first time in my life, I’m just being."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Hannah Peters