Serena Williams appears on the new cover of Vogue with her daughter Alexis Jr. and opens up in the pages about enduring two months of complications after giving birth.

The 36-year-old tennis champ said in the magazine’s February 2018 issue that her pregnancy was easy, but had to undergo an emergency C-section due to her daughter’s low heart rate during contractions. The next day, Williams felt short of breath and assumed she was having a pulmonary embolism because of her history with blood clots. She underwent a CT scan and several small clots were found in her lungs. “I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!” she recalled telling the medical team.

Things got worse in the six days that followed. Williams’ C-section wound popped open and doctors found that a large hematoma had flooded her abdomen. When she finally returned home after several surgeries, she was unable to get out of bed for six weeks.

 

“I was so happy to change diapers, but on top of everything she was going through, the feeling of not being able to help made it even harder,” the athlete’s husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, told Vogue.

Since then, Serena has found motherhood to be demanding, yet rewarding. “Sometimes I get really down and feel like, ‘Man, I can’t do this,’” Williams explained. “It’s that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that’s just who I am. No one talks about the low moments — the pressure you feel, the incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry. 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.”

Despite a rough start, the four-time Olympic gold medalist has nothing but love for Alexis Jr., whom she calls Olympia (the baby’s middle name) while Ohanian prefers Junior. “We’re not spending a day apart until she’s 18,” Williams said. “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 when I was still kind of a normal girl who played with dolls.”

Williams had to pull out of the Australian Open this year due to her medical situation, but she’s looking forward to getting back on the court. “There hasn’t been a clear No. 1 since I was there,” she said. “It will be cool to see if I get there again, to what I call my spot — where I feel I belong.”

Meanwhile, Vogue got Serena to do the #LemonDanceChallenge on an airport runway. Check the video out below!

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