Serena Williams has revealed that she dealt with a series of medical scares after the birth of her daughter－and that the experience has made her stronger.
In a story in the February issue of Vogue and posted on the magazine's website on Wednesday, Williams discusses developing several small blood clots in her lungs while in the hospital after Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born in September.
According to the article, the tennis superstar "spent the first six weeks of motherhood unable to get out of bed".
Williams told Vogue she had an emergency cesarean section after the baby's heart rate fell dangerously low during contractions.
The surgery went well "and then everything went bad," she said.
Williams, who has a history of blood clots, suffered from shortness of breath the day after the birth and told her doctors she needed a CT scan.
Several small blood clots were found in her lungs, and Williams was put on an anticoagulant. "I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!" she joked.
More complications followed as intense coughing caused her C-section wound to open and a hematoma was found in her abdomen.
The 36-year-old Williams, who is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, has not competed since winning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in January 2017. She is skipping this year's Austra lian Open, which begins on Monday.
Serena is now eyeing a return to the women's tour at the Indian Wells tournament in March.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, told Vogue she is determined to win more major titles and surpass the record of 24 Slams held by Australia's Margaret Court. "Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams," she said. "I'm well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It's not a secret that I have my sights on 25."
Williams said being a mother might boost rather than hinder her quest.
"Actually, I think having a baby might help," she said. "When I'm too anxious, I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born.
"Knowing I've got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don't have to play another match," she said. "I don't need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don't need them. That's a different feeling for me."
In the interview, Williams also discussed her rivalry with her older sister, Venus, who enjoyed a resurgent 2017 and finished the year as world No 5.
"I know that her career might have been different if she had my health," Serena said. "I know how hard she works. I hate playing her because she gets this look on her face where she just looks sad if she's losing. Solemn. It breaks my heart.
"So when I play her now, I absolutely don't look at her, because if she gets that look, then I'll start feeling bad, and the next thing you know I'll be losing.
"I think that was the turning point in our rivalry, when I stopped looking at her."