This week tennis superstar Serena Williams revealed that she is twenty weeks pregnant with her first child.
A quick check on the calendar shows that she probably conceived her baby around the first week of December (don’t act like you weren’t curious).
But wait, she played in the Australian Open in January. More than that, she won the Australian Open in January.
She did it while she was pregnant.
Let me say that again, in case you missed it.
Serena Williams won the Australian Open while she was seven or eight weeks pregnant.
For those readers who are familiar with the crazy workings of the female body, you know that the first trimester of pregnancy is generally considered the most dangerous. This is the time that miscarriages are the most prevalent.
Some critics might say that it was irresponsible for Serena to play in the tournament, especially with the extremely hot temperatures that accompany the Australian Open and can fatigue even the healthiest athletes. Some might say she was putting her baby at risk. But to such critics I would say, who cares?
Williams was simply doing her job. It is her career to play tennis. Many women have extremely stressful jobs, but they can’t stop working when they are pregnant. That’s a luxury most women don’t have, so why should Serena quit her job before she has to? Granted she is no longer playing competitively for the remainder of her pregnancy, which is understandable because at a certain point it’s not physically possible for her to play on the competitive level she would need to. Let’s not get carried away here. But if Serena was able to compete at an elite level and not compromise her baby’s health at the Australian Open, then more power to her. It doesn’t matter that she’s out for the season. She already made a statement for women everywhere.
She won the Australian Open while she was pregnant.
She showed women they don’t have to sacrifice their careers when they are pregnant. Pregnancy is not a weakness. It is simply a part of a woman; it does not define women.
Serena Williams is internationally recognized for her strength and power. She has famously said that she does not want to be considered one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, but rather one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Most people would agree that she is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. She has twenty-three grand-slam singles championships. That’s more than any other tennis player male or female. Ever.
However, this week Serena reminded us all that she is a woman. Not only is she a woman, she is one of the strongest women. She is showing women that it is possible to have it all- a successful career and a family.
Some people might be thinking, “She was only seven weeks pregnant. The baby is the size of an almond at that point. She probably couldn’t even tell.”
To which I would say, Williams is a professional athlete. Her body is quite literally her living. Even the tiniest change will be noticeable to any athlete who so carefully maintains their body and everything that goes into their body. Yet, she was still able to carry on and make it work.
Former world-ranked #1 men’s singles player Novak Djokovic is notorious for calling medical timeouts during his matches when he has “ailments” such as foot cramps, or blisters. Curiously, these timeouts always seem to come when he is in a slump during his match (coincidence? I think not).
I’ve always found Djokovic’s “timeouts” to be weak and annoying. So has former mens singles champion and color commentator John McEnroe, who has more than once called Djokovic out for violating the on-court rules of calling a medical trainer.
Well Novak, I’d love to see you call a medical timeout for a blister on your foot now. I’m sure it’s painful. Anyone who has played tennis regularly, or any sport for that matter, has most likely experienced some gnarly blisters.
But, it is not the equivalent as having a human growing inside of you.
In juxtaposition to Djokovic, some women are also known for playing up their “female bodies.” Say the word menstrual cycle or cramps to a man and they will flee as though they just discovered that you have the plague and tell you to go do whatever you need to do. Easy way out of work or school.
But is this right?
I had quite a few friends in high school who would stay home when they got their periods or complain to their teachers so they could get out of class. Was it that bad? Somehow I doubt it.
Women who cry wolf over their “cramps” are part of the reason why female bodies can be viewed as weak. Suck it up. Very few women actually have the luxury to take a day off because they have cramps. Women need to stop using it as an excuse. Pop a Midol and carry on.
So the next time anyone complains about cramps or blisters on their feet, I invite them to remember- Serena Williams won the Australian Open while she was pregnant.