Although Serena Williams had an easy pregnancy, giving birth was a completely different story.
In a new interview with Vogue, the tennis pro revealed she not only had an emergency C-section, but also suffered from health complications for nearly two months following the birth of her daughter.
Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, welcomed their four-month-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, on Sept. 1, 2017.
Because their baby girl — who they call OIympia — had a dangerously low heart rate during Williams' contractions, the infant had to be delivered via emergency cesarean.
The new mom told Vogue it was "an amazing feeling" to hold her daughter for the first time, but "then everything went bad."
The next day, Williams started experiencing shortness of breath and sensed she was having a pulmonary embolism due to her history of blood clots. After alerting the medical staff, the new mom underwent a CT scan, which confirmed she had several blood clots on her lungs.
Blood clots have been a fear of Williams' ever since she was hospitalized for complications from an earlier pulmonary embolism (a blockage in an artery of her lung) in 2011. According to Vogue's Rob Haskell, this health scare made her "terrified of getting pregnant" because "carrying a child increases the risk of blood clots."
But the pulmonary embolism was just the beginning of Williams' health scares after welcoming her daughter. Due to the pulmonary embolism, the 36-year-old experienced intense coughing fits, which caused her C-section wound to reopen. After being taken to surgery, doctors then found a large hematoma (an abnormal collection of blood outside a blood vessel) had flooded her abdomen.
After undergoing multiple surgeries due to health complications, Williams was left bedridden for her first six weeks as a new mother.
"On top of everything she was going through, the feeling of not being able to help made it even harder," Ohanian revealed in Vogue's February issue.
"No one talks about the low moments — the pressure you feel, the incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry," Williams told the mag. "I've broken down I don't know how many times. Or I'll get angry about the crying, then sad about being angry, and then guilty, like, 'Why do I feel so sad when I have a beautiful baby?' The emotions are insane."
Ever since Williams welcomed her daughter, she's been one of the most relatable celebrity moms out there. Not only does she share her highs and lows as a mom on social media, but she's even turned to her fans for advice on a variety of parenting topics, from breastfeeding to teething.
Fellow moms:— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) December 6, 2017
How long did you breastfeed? Is it weird that I get emotional when I even just think about when it's time to stop? pic.twitter.com/YOz4oeIajH
"My coach and team always said 'only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way,'" Williams said in a statement, Reuters reports. "Although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be."
The tennis pro's honesty earned her praise among fellow parents, who supported her decision to "listen to her body."
Good decision Serena...u know yourself better than anyone...listen to your body & do the ryt thing...Love still...— Kolisa Cana (@kolisa_cana) January 5, 2018
totally get it!!! Four months is too soon. Take good care of yourself. Love, mom of 3— Maribeth sears (@maribeth_sears) January 5, 2018
Serena Williams withdrew from the Australian open because she is still recovering from child birth so y'all can kiss my ass and stop judging me for wanting to stay in bed occasionally seven months after my child's birth. Postpartum depression is no joke people.— Tonye West (@tony3w3st) January 10, 2018
Though disappointed she won't be competing at the tournament this year, Williams is clearly happy with her decision.
"We're not spending a day apart until she's 18," the proud mom told Vogue about Olympia. "Now that I'm 36 and I look at my baby, I remember that this was also one of my goals when I was little, before tennis took over."