For Serena Williams, tennis — not motherhood — was the sacrifice

Tennis is a uniquely exhausting sport for new parents. Most of the calendar year is considered a season, and much of that season is spent at tournaments around the world.

But for Williams, a return to the world’s biggest stages was not in sight. “I went from a caesarean section to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played with postpartum depression,” she wrote. She reached her 10th Wimbledon final in July 2018, a year after giving birth.

Since then, Williams’ daughter has not been far from the stands. On the Fed Cup is Olympia, who has a red and white headband with a glittery bow. And at the ASB classic, she was sitting on her father’s lap, clapping, wanting to see what a brilliant title her mother has this time. At the Top Seed Open, he was spotted in the stands, a little distracted by his iPhone (it happens to the best of us). And he had a front-row seat at the 2020 US Open bubble, pointing to a near-empty stadium and saying “Dad.”

In the past five years, Williams said she hasn’t spent more than 24 hours with her daughter.

But Williams made one thing clear. His evolution (retirement, he says, is not a word he likes to use) is not an easy decision; It’s not something she’s been able to talk about with anyone but her therapist. It’s not an easy ride into the sunset. No, it’s a more difficult decision – one that he really didn’t want to make.

“Believe me, I never wanted to choose between tennis and family. I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a boy, I wouldn’t have written this because I would have been out there playing and winning while my wife was doing manual labor to grow our family,” he said. “Maybe I’d be more Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”

So is 36-year-old Rafael Nadal. He announced that his wife Maria Francisca Perello is pregnant with their first child. At a press conference in June, Nadal, winner of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, said: “I don’t think it will change my professional life.”

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