She’s said before that, were she not a woman, she would be considered the greatest tennis player in history, and it seems that being of the ‘fairer sex’ has come back to bite Serena Williams once again in the wake of her pregnancy announcement.
Despite the 35-year-old US athlete winning her 23rd Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January while two months pregnant, without dropping a single set, an Australian newspaper has decided that by having a child, her career is automatically in jeopardy.
“Will Serena Williams want to fight her way back to the top when she becomes a mother?” read a headline in The Telegraph this morning, as women across the world collectively groaned.
“Since her debut in 1995, Williams has assembled the greatest career in the history of women’s tennis. But is that career now over? It has to be a possibility after Williams revealed that she was pregnant,” wrote Tennis Correspondent Simon Briggs.
“Would the younger Williams want to fight her way back to the top of the game in 2018, having become a mother sometime around the US Open in early September?”
Serena's snap suggests that she won the Australian Open without dropping a set while pregnant. pic.twitter.com/ltPndJRJBq
— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) April 19, 2017
Why, yes, Briggs, there’s a high chance she will want to and an equally high chance she will succeed in doing just that. If she doesn’t, that is, of course, fine too since it’s her choice, but to assume that a woman must choose between motherhood and her career is as outdated as an attitude can get.
“Why would having a baby mean that her career is over?! What a ridiculous headline! Have we gone back in time to the 50s?” wrote one incredulous Twitter user, while others argued that “how she chooses to manage her career and family is no one else’s business but her own”.
Serena Williams won the Australian open pregnant.
Idgaf who you think the greatest athlete ever is. They didn't win a major title pregnant.
— Former Black Man (@DavidEatsViagra) April 19, 2017
Serena Williams was pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam tournament at the Australian Open. And did not drop ONE SET. Let that sink in.
— ☇ASAP Sports News☇ (@ASAP_SportsNews) April 19, 2017
"Serena confirms pregnancy, sparking fears for her career"
There's a headline a man wouldn't get.
— Leonie Doyle (@leoniedoyle) April 19, 2017
Williams shared her joy with fans by posting a photo of herself in a swimsuit on Snapchat, captioned “20 weeks”. Congratulations for both her and her fiancé, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, soon began flooding in.
Williams will miss the next three Grand Slams before returning to tennis in 2018. Her publicist has said that she currently has no plans to retire.
Those doubting her future may do well to remember that Kim Clijsters returned from having her first child to be crowned US Open champion in 2009.
Other sportswomen to prove that you can be a mother and a champion include heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, golfer Catriona Matthew and runners Jo Pavey, Paula Radcliffe and Catherine Ndereba.