Serena williams and daughter

SERENA Williams gave birth to her first child and married her partner Alexis Ohanian in 2017.

Here is all you need to know about the birth and Serena’s views on motherhood.

2 Serena Williams whilst pregnant with her first childCredit: Splash News

When was Serena Williams’ baby born?

The tennis legend revealed she was 22 weeks pregnant in mid-April 2017.

This put the baby’s due date either the end of August or beginning of September – and right on cue, Serena went into labour on September 1, 2017.

She gave birth to a baby girl that day after clearing an entire hospital floor in order to welcome her first child in total privacy.

On September 13, 2017, the tennis ace revealed she and her partner Alexis Ohanian had given birth to a baby girl and named her Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, after her father.

The star is said to have held a baby shower celebration in Miami back in May, and it was reported that pal Meghan Markle snubbed the shower to be with Prince Harry at the polo.

A source said: “Meghan had been planning to go to Miami this weekend for Serena’s shower… But at the last minute Meg bailed and went to see Harry in the UK instead.”

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A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Sep 13, 2017 at 6:39am PDT

What has Serena said about motherhood and managing her career?

Serena prefers to call her daughter Olympia, and she told Vogue “we’re not spending a day apart until she’s eighteen”.

Her husband, Alexis Ohanian is based in San Francisco and Williams admitted she found the idea of moving there and being a full time mum attractive.

However, she stated: “But not yet. I absolutely want more Grand Slams.”

Serena has reached the final of Wimbledon in her first appearance at SW19 since becoming a mother.

2 Alexis Ohanian with his and Serena Williams’ daughter Alexis OlympiaCredit: AP:Associated Press

Who is the father of Serena Williams’ baby?

The father of Serena Williams’ baby is her husband, the tech entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian.

Alexis is most famous for co-founding social news website Reddit, which was recently valued at £407million and is considered to be the seventh biggest site in the US.

He also wrote bestselling book Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed, which was published in 2013.


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When and where did Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian get married?

Serena married her fiancé Alexis Ohanian on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

The pair tied the knot at a star-studded bash in New Orleans.

A source told the Daily Mail: “Serena and Alexis chose the Contemporary Arts Center because of its incredible architecture and history.

“They have instructed Preston to fill the hall with thousands of dollars worth of crystals and flowers. The hall will be totally transformed.”

Visibly pregnant Serena Williams poses for photographs with fiance Alexis Ohanian

Biography Newsletters

Family and Early Life

Serena Jameka Williams was born on September 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan. The youngest of Richard and Oracene Williams’ five daughters, Serena and her sister Venus would grow up to become great tennis champions.

Serena’s father — a former sharecropper from Louisiana determined to see his two youngest girls succeed — used what he’d gleaned from tennis books and videos to instruct Serena and Venus on how to play the game. At the age of three, practicing on a court not far from the family’s new Compton, California, home, Serena withstood the rigors of daily two-hour practices from her father.

The fact that the family had relocated to Compton was no accident. With its high rate of gang activity, Richard wanted to expose his daughters to the ugly possibilities of life “if they did not work hard and get an education.” In this setting, on courts that were riddled with potholes and sometimes missing nets, Serena and Venus cut their teeth on the game of tennis and the requirements for persevering in a tough climate.

By 1991, Serena was 46-3 on the junior United States Tennis Association tour and ranked first in the 10-and-under division. Sensing his girls needed better instruction to become successful professionals, he moved his family again — this time to Florida. There, Richard let go of some of his coaching responsibilities, but not the management of Serena’s and Venus’ career. Wary of his daughters burning out too quickly, he scaled back their junior tournament schedule.

The Williams Sisters

Serena and her older sister Venus were groomed for a tennis career from the age of three years old by their father. With their signature style and play, Venus and Serena changed the look of their sport. Their sheer power and athletic ability overwhelmed opponents, and their sense of style and presence made them standout celebrities on the court. The close-knit sisters lived together for more than a dozen years in a gated Palm Beach Gardens enclave in Florida, but they went their separate ways after Serena bought a mansion in nearby Jupiter in December 2013.

In 1999, Serena beat out her sister Venus in their race to the family’s first Grand Slam win when she captured the U.S. Open title. It set the stage for a run of high-powered, high-profile victories for both Williams sisters.

In 2008, Serena and Venus teamed up to capture a second women’s doubles Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games. The next year, Serena and Venus purchased shares of the Miami Dolphins to become the first African American women to own part of an NFL team.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Serena claimed her fourth overall Olympic gold medal by teaming with sister Venus to defeat Czech Republic stars Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in women’s doubles.

Seeking to add to her hardware collection in the summer of 2015, Williams had to overcome big sister Venus to advance past the fourth round at Wimbledon. A few days later, she defeated Garbine Muguruza in the final to claim her second career “Serena Slam” and become the oldest Grand Slam singles champion in the Open era.

At the 2015 U.S. Open, Williams again squared off with Venus in a tough quarterfinal matchup, this time pulling away in the deciding third set. The outcome left her two wins shy of the calendar year Grand Slam, a feat accomplished by just three women in the sport’s history. But it was not to be. In a shocking upset, unseeded Roberta Vinci, ranked No. 43 in the world, dashed Williams’ quest by pulling out a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win in the semifinals.

Just hours after her singles win at Wimbledon in 2016, Serena and Venus won the doubles championship, their sixth Wimbledon win together.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the Williams sisters experienced a shocking upset when they were bounced out of the first round of women’s doubles at the Rio Olympics by Czech duo Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. The Williams sisters had originally been seeded as no. 1, had an Olympic record of 15-0, and had won gold three times previously.

Williams scored a historic victory at the 2017 Australian Open, winning her 23rd Grand Slam title after defeating her sister Venus, 6-4 6-4. With her 23rd win, she surpassed Steffi Graf’s total and captured the world number one ranking.

Reflecting on her victory, Williams credited her sister as an inspiration. “I would really like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she is an amazing person,” she said. “There is no way I would be at 23 without her. There is no way I would be at one without her. She is my inspiration, she is the only reason. I am standing here today and the only reason that the Williams sisters exist.”

’The Serena Slam’

In 1995 Serena turned pro. Two years later, she was already No. 99 in the world rankings — up from No. 304 just 12 months before. A year later, she graduated high school and almost immediately inked a $12 million shoe deal with Puma.

In 2002, Serena won the French Open, the U.S. Open, and Wimbledon, defeating sister Venus in the finals of each tournament. She captured her first Australian Open in 2003, making her one of only six women in the Open era to complete a career Grand Slam. The win also fulfilled her desire to hold all four major titles simultaneously to comprise what she’d dubbed “The Serena Slam.”

Burnout & Comeback

In August 2003, Serena underwent knee surgery, and in September her half-sister Yetunde Price was murdered in Los Angeles, California. Three years later, Serena seemed burned out. Plagued by injuries, and just a general lack of motivation to stay fit or compete at the same level she once had, Serena saw her tennis ranking slump to 139.

Serena credited her faith as a Jehovah’s Witness, as well as a life-changing journey she made to West Africa, for renewing her pride and competitive fire. In 2008 she won the U.S. Open. By 2009, Williams reclaimed her place atop the world’s rankings, winning both the 2009 Australian Open singles (for the fourth time) and Wimbledon 2009 singles (for the third time). She also won the doubles matches at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon that year.


Williams made headlines in September 2009, when she blasted a lineswoman for a foot-fault called near the end of a semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open. The profanity-laced outburst included finger pointing and, according to the lineswoman, an alleged threat from Serena against her life.

Williams downplayed what happened, refuting the allegation that she’d threatened the woman. But the incident did not go over well with the tennis-viewing public, nor the U.S. Tennis Association, which fined her $10,000 on the spot. Two months later, she was placed on two-year probation and ordered to pay another $82,500 to the Grand Slam committee for the episode, the largest punishment ever levied against a tennis player.

By early 2010, Senena was back on track, winning the Australian Open singles and doubles matches as well as her fourth Wimbledon singles championship.

Injuries and Retirement Speculation

In 2011, Serena suffered a series of health scares after doctors found a blood clot in one of her lungs, which kept her away from tennis for several months. Following several procedures, including one to remove a hematoma, speculation rose as to whether Williams would retire from the sport.

Serena’s health improved by September 2011, however, and she looked like her old dominant self at the U.S. Open before falling to Samantha Stosur in the finals.

Williams stumbled badly at the 2012 French Open, enduring a first-round loss for the first time at a major tournament. But she was back in top form in London in July 2012, defeating 23-year-old Agnieszka Radwanska in an emotional three sets to claim her fifth Wimbledon singles title and first major championship in two years.

At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Serena beat Maria Sharapova to take her first gold medal in women’s singles.

15th and 16th Grand Slam Titles

Serena continued her winning streak to her next Grand Slam event. In September 2012, she beat out rival Victoria Azarenka to take the singles title at the U.S. Open. According to USA Today, Williams wasn’t sure that she’d emerge victorious. “I honestly can’t believe I won. I was really preparing my runner-up speech, because I thought, ‘Man, she’s playing so great.'”

By this time, Serena had captured 15 Grand Slam singles titles and 13 Grand Slam doubles titles. “I would like to leave a mark,” Serena once said about her standing in the tennis world. “I think obviously I will, due to the fact that I’m doing something different in tennis. But I don’t think I could ever reach something like a Martina Navratilova — I don’t think I’d ever play that long — but who knows? I think I’ll leave a mark regardless.”

In June 2013, Serena took her second French Open title — as well as her 16th Grand Slam singles title — in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over defending champion Sharapova. “I’m still a little bit upset about that loss last year,” Serena said in an interview with ESPN following the match. “But it’s all about, for me, how you recover. I think I’ve always said a champion isn’t about how much they win, but it’s about how they recover from their downs, whether it’s an injury or whether it’s a loss.”

2013 Wimbledon Loss and U.S. Open Win

Her career-best 34-match winning streak over, Serena told Sports Illustrated, “I don’t think it’s a huge shock. is a great player. Her ranking has no effect on what she should be. She should be ranked higher. She just has a super, super game to play well on grass.”

At the 2013 U.S. Open, Serena made a strong showing. She knocked out her younger rival Sloane Stephens in the fourth round before upending Azarenka to clinch the U.S. Open title. It was the second year in a row that the pair had faced off in the finals.

20th Grand Slam

Serena clinched her third straight and sixth overall U.S. Open singles title in 2014 by defeating her good friend Caroline Wozniacki. Her winning ways carried into the new year, as she beat Sharapova to claim the 2015 Australian Open championship. At the French Open in June, Serena managed to overcome illness to win the tournament for the third time and claim her 20th Grand Slam singles title, good for third place all-time.

“When I was a little girl, in California, my father and my mother wanted me to play tennis,” she told the crowd in French after her victory. “And now I’m here, with 20 Grand Slam titles.”

2016 Losses and Wins

Serena opened 2016 by advancing to the Australian Open final, where she lost in three sets to Angelique Kerber. After notching career WTA title No. 70 with a win at the Italian Open, she advanced to a French Open final rematch with Muguruza, but this time succumbed to the Spanish player in straight sets.

On July 9, 2016, Serena found her way back to victory, defeating Kerber 7-5, 6-3 at Wimbledon and winning her 22nd grand slam title. With her historic win, Serena tied Steffi Graf for the most major championships in the Open era of professional tennis, which started in 1968.

“I have definitely had some sleepless nights with a lot of stuff, coming so close and feeling it and not being able to get there,” Serena told reporters. “This tournament I came in with a different mindset. In Melbourne I thought I played well but Angelique played great, and better. So I knew going into this one I needed to be calm and be confident and play the tennis I’ve been playing for well over a decade.”

At the 2016 U.S. Open, Serena suffered another surprising defeat, leaving the competition early after she was defeated by Karolina Pliskova in their semifinal match. With the loss, she also gave up the No. 1 ranking which she’d held for 186 weeks.

23rd Grand Slam, Pregnancy and Birth

Serena went on to clinch the 2017 Australian Open to win her 23rd Grand Slam title. Later that year, she revealed she was two months pregnant during the game. She gave birth to her daughter in September and returned to the courts in late December 2017, hoping to shake off the rust in time to defend her Australian Open title.

However, Williams withdrew from the opening Grand Slam tournament in early 2018, noting she wasn’t quite ready yet after the birth of her daughter in September. “I can compete—but I don’t want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time,” she said.

Serena finally returned to competition on February 11, teaming up with Venus for a doubles match in Fed Cup play. Clad in her “Wakanda-inspired catsuit,” Williams looked to be rounding into form at the French Open, before pulling out with a pectoral injury prior to her eagerly anticipated fourth-round match against Sharapova. Recovering from the setback, she proceeded to march through the Wimbledon women’s draw in July, her run ending with a loss to Kerber in the final.

At the end of the month, just before a match against Johanna Konta at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, Serena learned that the man who murdered her half-sister had been paroled three years short of his full sentence. She subsequently suffered a lopsided defeat, and later told Time how heavily the news weighed on her during the match.

The star athlete was back in the news in late August when French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli said he was instituting a new dress code at the French Open to prevent the reappearance of the notorious catsuit. After insisting she had no problem with the ruling, Williams went on to wear a custom-designed tutu for the start of U.S. Open play, in which she easily dispatched her early competition en route to a third-round matchup with big sister Venus.

2018 U.S. Open and 2019 Runner-up Finishes

Just one year after giving birth, Serena was back in top form at the 2018 U.S. Open. During the final match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka, Williams got in a heated dispute with the umpire after he determined that her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was giving her hand signals from the stands, so the umpire gave her a coaching violation.

Serena denied any cheating and accused him of sexism and attacking her character. “You owe me an apology!” she said. She then got a point penalty for smashing her racket and a penalty for verbal abuse. Osaka won the match, 6-2, 6-4, and Williams was later fined $17,000 for the incident.

At the 2019 Australian Open, the site of her last Grand Slam crown, Serena played her way into a quarterfinal match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. However, she lost despite being up 5-1 in the third set, a stunning collapse for a champion known for her nerves of steel.

A few months later, Serena was outplayed in a third-round French Open loss to 20-year-old American Sofia Kenen. She got back on track and advanced to the Wimbledon final, before suffering a straight-set loss to Romania’s Simona Halep. Serena then breezed through her draw at the 2019 U.S. Open, but was unable to overcome 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu in the final.

Although she finished the year without a Grand Slam win, Williams earned a consolation prize by being named the AP Female Athlete of the Decade.

Serena Williams’ Grand Slams

Over the course of her career, Serena Williams has won a record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, beginning in 1999 with the U.S. Open title. Her most recent victory came with the 2017 Australian Open when she surpassed Steffi Graf’s record for most wins in the Open era.

Husband and Daughter

In December 2016, Williams became engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. On November 16, 2017, Williams and Ohanian were married at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Serena wore a stunning Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress, and the list of celebrity guests in attendance included Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian West and Eva Longoria.

In April 2017, Williams hinted that she was pregnant in a post on Snapchat showing her baby belly with the caption “20 weeks,” though the posting was deleted a few minutes later.

Williams was indeed pregnant, and she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on September 1, 2017. The tennis great posted a photo with her baby on Instagram and shared the journey of her pregnancy in a video posted on her website and on YouTube.

In the cover story for the February 2018 edition of Vogue, Williams revealed the major health complications that came with giving birth to Alexis Olympia. After undergoing an emergency cesarean section, Williams experienced sudden shortness of breath, leading to the discovery of blood clots in her lungs. Additionally, doctors found a large hematoma in her abdomen that had been caused by hemorrhaging at the site of her C-section.

Following multiple surgeries, Williams was able to return home after a week. However, she was then unable to get out of bed for another six weeks, leaving her feeling helpless at times when it came to tending to her newborn. Despite the toll it took on her emotions, she told Vogue she was willing to consider having more children, but understandably was in no rush to do so.

TV, Books & Fashion

Proving to have much more than just tennis clout, Serena expanded her brand into film, television, and fashion. She developed her own Aneres line of clothing, and in 2002 People magazine selected her as one of its 25 Most Intriguing People.

Essence magazine later called her one of the country’s 50 Most Inspiring African Americans. She’s also made television appearances, and lent her voice to shows such as The Simpsons.

Seeking to provide educational opportunities for underprivileged youth around the world, the tennis star formed the Serena Williams Foundation and built schools in Africa.

In 2010, Williams had released an autobiography, Queen of the Court.

Starting in May 2018, HBO released the first of a five-chapter doc series on Williams called Being Serena. Around that time, the athlete-entrepreneur launched a new eponymous clothing line.

  • Alexis Ohanian describes Serena Williams’ “near-fatal complications” during their daughter Olympia’s birth in 2017.
  • The reddit co-founderOhania says that “paternity leave was crucial” for their family, and urges new dads to take the time if they’re able to.
  • “Taking leave also set me off on the right foot for sharing parental responsibilities,” Ohanian writes in a New York Times op-ed.

Becoming a new parent is an intense experience in the best of conditions—you’ve got a tiny, screaming newborn to keep alive, to say nothing of the sleep deprivation. But for Serena Williams, the arrival of baby Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. also came with serious danger to her health and a particularly difficult recovery. Williams’ husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, opens up about those joyful-yet-harrowing first few months in a new New York Times editorial and explains why his paid paternity leave was so essential. Ohanian also says it helped him start off “on the right foot” as a dad.

“Before Olympia was born, I had never thought much about paternity leave and, to be honest, Reddit’s company policy was not my idea,” Ohanian, who was able to take 16 full weeks off, admits.

“Then came Olympia, after near-fatal complications forced my wife, Serena, to undergo an emergency C-section,” he continues. “Serena spent days in recovery fighting for her life against pulmonary embolisms. When we came home with our baby girl, Serena had a hole in her abdomen that needed bandage changes daily. She was on medication. She couldn’t walk.” (Williams detailed her rocky postpartum experience in a January 2018 Vogue profile.)

While Ohanian acknowledges his new family was lucky enough to have help, those first few weeks were still “incredibly difficult.”

He also drops some staggering statistics that highlight just how systematically unsupported new mothers and fathers are the United States: “Nearly one in four employed women giving birth in the United States is back at work within two weeks,” Ohanian says. “Only 9 percent of work sites in the United States offer paid paternity leave to all male employees, and 76 percent of fathers are back to work within a week after the birth or adoption of a child.”

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A post shared by Alexis Ohanian Sr. (@alexisohanian) on Aug 12, 2019 at 9:22am PDT

Furthermore, even dads who do get paid paternity leave don’t always take it. According to Ohanian—and a recent poll he cites—that’s partly due to a fear that employers would ding them for the time off.

“Nearly a third of dads think that taking leave could negatively impact their career,” Ohanian writes; that fear can dredge up other worries that they’ll lose their job and won’t be able to financially support their families.

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A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on May 12, 2019 at 6:05am PDT

Ohanian urges those dads who are able to take paid leave to jump at the chance—and says it also helped him learn how to be an actively-involved parent from day one.

“Taking leave also set me off on the right foot for sharing parental responsibilities,” he says. “Two years later, there is no stigma in our house about me changing diapers, feeding Olympia, doing her hair or anything else I might need to do in a pinch. They’re all just dad things (not ‘babysitter’ things — I hate it when people refer to dads spending time with their kids as babysitting).”

Ohanian’s op-ed made me want to jump to my feet with applause—not because a hands-on dad deserves extra praise (as he’d clearly agree), but because paid paternal leave essentially saved me after the birth of my own son last January.

Like Serena I, too, had a “hole in my abdomen” that required daily care after a C-section infection, with other complications to boot. I couldn’t lift anything heavier than my baby, nor could I walk unassisted farther than a few steps to the taxis that shuttled me to endless doctor appointments while my partner stayed home to feed and change our newborn. On the days a nurse couldn’t come to change my bandages, my partner would perform the mini-surgery on our bed as our son howled in a bassinet two feet away. The fact that he could be there for me—for us—meant everything.

Because neither my son’s father nor I have living parents able to help out, I shudder to think of how much darker those first few months would have been had my partner’s employer not granted him eight weeks of paid postpartum leave. Every day I thought about parents—mothers and fathers—who are forced to return to their jobs earlier than they’d like, and how fortunate we were.

And Ohanian is right: Paternal leave really did establish an equal partnership when it came to the work of baby care. Once I’d finally healed enough to push a stroller, it was my partner who taught me how to set it up, among so many other baby care lessons he’d had to learn on his own.

“We need a federal bill that mandates quality paid family leave for everyone — birth parents, adoptive parents and caregivers alike,” Ohanian writes. Amen to that.

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Serena Williams, with or without a baby, has always been a ‘real woman’

The Vanity Fair cover was #shotsfired.

I remember gasping upon seeing it. Serena Williams’ pregnant belly had popped, and there it was, along with the rest of her — glamorous, wind-swept, nearly nude, elegantly trolling us with a glance back to August 1991.

First thought: This b—- betta WERK.

Second thought: Eat your heart out, Demi.

On Friday, the 35-year-old Williams gave birth to her first child, a girl, at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. She entered the hospital Wednesday, claimed an entire floor of the maternity wing and was induced Thursday evening. She and her fiancé, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, 34, have been engaged since December 2016. The birth of the Williams-Ohanian baby marks the culmination of several months of famous-mommy-to-be hullabaloo for America’s greatest living athlete. Said hullabaloo allowed us to re-engage with all our worries, anxieties, hostilities, unsolicited opinions and concern-trolling about Williams and that magnificent body of hers that will never allow her the luxury of being a shrinking violet, even if she wanted to be one.

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When you and your crew go so far back to the 50’s. Even then they had your back. @evalongoria @ciara @lala @kellyrowland @angiebeyince #shakerattleandroll2017 #babyO

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Aug 6, 2017 at 6:04am PDT

Fortunately for us, Williams was more than happy to publicly exult in her knocked-up condition, gifting audiences with glossy, high-profile photo shoots in Vanity Fair, Vogue and Stellar, the magazine of Australia’s Daily Telegraph. There was the #squadgoals baby shower that doubled as a sock hop, an appearance with Ohanian at the Metropolitan Museum Gala in a silky, jewel-toned gown that breezily skimmed her swollen belly, and plenty of Instagram pics showing off her tummy’s transformation. This was how Williams, tennis player extraordinaire, fashion maven and certified friend of Anna Wintour, was going to publicly perform her pregnancy: with aplomb. In the course of an unexpected pregnancy, Williams stumbled upon an opportunity not just to express herself but to once again reassert and broaden definitions of beauty.

It was refreshing to see her so nakedly happy and maybe, just maybe, enjoying the opportunity to tweak some of her rivals and twirl on her haters. After all, Williams just so happened to “accidentally” share the news of her pregnancy with a photo on SnapChat the same day as her rival Maria Sharapova’s birthday.

For as long as she’s been in the public eye, Williams has been asserting her femininity because for just as long, it’s been under attack. Williams is well-aware of her public image and the critiques of it. And while she’s come to a level of comfort and acceptance with herself, she’s also bristled for years over the conversation about her physique and her athleticism. So for her, a pregnancy was more than a chance to welcome a new life into the world. It was an opportunity to assert, once and for all, something that should be obvious: that, yes, Serena Williams is indeed a “real woman.”

It doesn’t take a gender studies major to understand that the standard of femininity that exists for American women is centered on whiteness. And not just any kind of whiteness, but a delicate, blond, thin, toned-but-never-overly-muscular, WASP-y whiteness. Lady lumps are welcome, as long as they don’t protrude so much as to give the impression of cheapness or signal a tawdry lack of control over one’s body or eating habits.

It’s a rigid standard that, despite our recognition of it, has continued to hold firm. And so, even though Williams is in a class of her own as a tennis player, Sharapova nets more in endorsement deals because she’s more “marketable.” This despite her 15-month suspension for using a banned drug.

Which brings us to Vanity Fair.

Courtesy of Vanity Fair

When Moore appeared on its cover in 1991, nude, pregnant and head turned just so as she stared into the middle distance, it was a pivotal moment in the way our society thought about women’s bodies and pregnancy. Being visibly pregnant was — well, it was a really obvious indication that a woman had had sex. For decades, pregnant celebrities were expected to make themselves scarce as they carried, and here was Moore, flaunting her fecundity all over the newsstands. It marked the moment that pregnancy, at least for celebrities, could be a publicity asset. It could be sexy and daring and provocative, and you didn’t have to cover it up in a series of unflattering muumuus a la Princess Diana — if you were white.

In 2013, Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings posed for ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue.” She did two shoots, both nude: one while pregnant and one postpartum, cradling her sleeping baby against her body. Moore basically opened the door for images like those to exist and not be a big deal.

But there was a double standard for black celebrities. Twenty-six years after Moore’s momentous cover, Williams and Vanity Fair took a shot at that double standard by overtly referencing it. Williams’ pose wasn’t an exact replica — it was a little more defiant. The hand bra, as the pose came to be known, was the same, but Williams had her free hand cocked on her hip. In contrast to Moore’s relatively short locks, Williams was Lady Godiva, staring head-on into a wind machine out of frame. She’s completely in profile, rather than facing the camera. And she’s not quite naked. Instead, she’s wearing a belly chain over a thong matched to her complexion.

But more than anything, like Moore, she was hugely, roundly, unmistakably pregnant. For Williams, pregnancy provided a way to announce and assert her femininity, something she’s been doing over the whole of her career.

In an August interview with Stellar, Williams told the magazine, “I am about to be a real woman now, you know? It’s going to be something incredibly impressive to go through.”

It seemed like an innocuous quote, especially if you were familiar with the attacks that Williams has endured for decades about her looks. But some didn’t see it that way, and slammed Williams. “Didn’t know I had to have a baby to be a “real woman”..thanks for letting me know,” sniped one Twitter user.

Williams shares an unfortunate sisterhood with Michelle Obama. They’re both high-profile black women who have been repeatedly subjected to racist, sexist insults suggesting that they’re not real women, or that they’re not even human. Both have withstood barbs about their bodies simply because they don’t conform to WASP beauty standards.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post ran an interview with a Donald Trump supporter in western Pennsylvania who believed Obama “could be a man.” It’s a rumor that’s followed Obama since she entered the national spotlight, and it continues even though she’s returned to her role as a private citizen.

Opponents insulted Obama by calling her “Moochelle” and insisting she was overweight. A West Virginia official was suspended from her job after posting on Facebook, “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”

Because of her muscular physique, her aggressive style of play and her blackness, Williams has weathered similar accusations. Williams couldn’t even escape “misogynoiristic” comments from professional journalists. In 2009, Jason Whitlock, then a columnist for Fox Sports, called Williams lazy and fat, compared her to a horse and accused her of “grazing at her stall between matches.”

When Williams won Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year designation in 2015, she had to face the fact that a number of sports fans were angry that she took the honor over American Pharoah, a horse — which, being, you know, equine, was not a sportsperson.

Williams accepted the honor with a bold, sexy photo shoot for the SI cover. She donned a black lace leotard and patent leather stiletto heels and posed on a throne, one leg draped suggestively over the arm of the chair. She confronts the viewer head-on, staring straight into the camera. If there was a thought bubble above her head, I swear it’d say, “You come at the Queen, you best not miss.”

We don’t have to guess about her thoughts on the Vanity Fair cover. “Being black and being on the cover was really important to me,” Williams told Vogue in August. “The success of one woman should be the inspiration to another, and I’m always trying to inspire and motivate the black girls out there. I’m not a model. I’m not the girl next door. But I’m not hiding. Actually, I look like a lot of women out there. The American woman is many women, and I think it’s important to speak to American women at a time when they need encouragement.”

Her father, Richard, anticipated the animus that Serena and her sister Venus would face as they ascended to tennis’s biggest professional spotlights. He famously trained his daughters on the public courts of Compton, California, and paid people to shout racist, sexist invectives at them to make them as tough mentally as they were physically. It’s become part of the lore of the rise of the Williams sisters.

When she yells at game officials, it serves as confirmation for those who see Williams as unrefined. When she first expressed a serious interest in fashion and developed a line called Aneres, many a male sportswriter dismissed it as frivolous and unimportant because it wasn’t related to tennis. When she decided to go to beauty school to become a certified nail technician (she even once gave Oprah Winfrey a pedicure) it was easy to wave off the move as a lark.

Williams has managed to do what she wants, regardless of public reaction, whether it’s sporting a black catsuit that leaves little to the imagination or launching a fashion line for HSN and presenting it at New York Fashion Week. When she joined Beyoncé in the “Sorry” video for Lemonade, she was the epitome of “thick thighs save lives.”

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@beyonce 🍋🍋🍋🍋

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Apr 24, 2016 at 5:28am PDT

But that doesn’t mean the insults haven’t gotten to her. Because there’s no way to train yourself to tune out hate, not when it’s so loud and so personal.

“I don’t touch a weight, because I’m already super fit and super cut, and if I even look at weights, I get bigger,” Williams told The New York Times in 2015. “For years I’ve only done Thera-Bands and things like that, because that’s kind of how I felt. But then I realized that you really have to learn to accept who you are and love who you are. I’m really happy with my body type, and I’m really proud of it. Obviously it works out for me. I talk about it all the time, how it was uncomfortable for someone like me to be in my body.”

Just last year, Williams told The Guardian that she’s criticized for being “too muscly and too masculine, and then a week later too racy and too sexy.”

It’s easy to understand how pregnancy and motherhood could hold an outsize importance for Williams in her journey to loving, accepting and understanding herself as a woman in the body that she lives in. And it’s ironic that the life event that led her to exhibit such control over her public image is one that also requires ceding a bit of it, or sometimes a lot, to a tiny human gestating in utero.

If giving birth gives her a measure of comfort she wouldn’t otherwise have, no one should begrudge her. But Serena Williams, baby or no, has always been a real woman.

Soraya Nadia McDonald is the culture critic for The Undefeated. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts, and literature. She’s based in Brooklyn.

Love! Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian Welcome a Baby Girl

Mike Coppola/Getty Images Talk about love-love—in the best way: Serena Williams and fiancé Alexis Ohanian have just welcomed a baby girl,, reports! The couple’s daughter was born in Florida today, and reportedly weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.

Williams, of course, infamously spilled her exciting pregnancy news by accident on April 19th in a quickly deleted Snap. On April 24th, she posted a sweet message to her baby-to-be. And while she said she wanted to be surprised by the sex of her baby, it turns out that her big sister Venus, who insinuated that Serena was expecting a girl, was right. (Big sisters usually are!)

Now, the well-wishes have flooded in, with everyone from the U.S. Open to her coach to Beyoncé posting congratulatory messages on social media.

The tennis champ, who stayed fit during her entire pregnancy and, basically, gave us major #pregnancygoals, has said previously that she doesn’t plan on returning to tennis until January—but she won’t be alone in taking time off to be with her new baby: Ohanian also went public earlier this year with his plan to take 6 weeks of paternity leave.

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Now, we just can’t wait to hear the name the couple chooses. Congratulations to the new parents!

Serena Williams’ newborn baby is destined to be a champion — that is, if you read into the meaning behind her daughter’s initials.

The tennis superstar revealed on Twitter this week that baby Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.’s name pays homage to Williams’ victory at the Australian Open, which she won while pregnant.

Fun fact my daughters initials are AO as in the Aussie open she won with me @AustralianOpen

— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) September 28, 2017 Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

“Fun fact my daughters initials are AO as in the Aussie open she won with me @AustralianOpen,” Williams wrote.

Williams said during a TED Talk interview that she learned about the pregnancy just two days before the tournament began.

Serena Williams posts pics of new baby Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

Sept. 14, 201700:48

“I was nervous,” Williams, 36, said. “I wasn’t quite sure what to think, but I knew that at that moment, it was really important for me to just focus.”

“It wasn’t very easy,” she added. “You hear all these stories about people when they’re pregnant — they get sick, they get really tired, really stressed out … I had to really take all that energy and put it in a paper bag, so to say, and throw it away.”

Williams and her fiancé, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, welcomed their baby into the world on Sept. 1.

The latest reveal about the meaning behind her daughter’s initials has already resulted in her fans speculating that her child would also become a tennis legend.

…and she was born during the US open. She is destined to play tennis!!

— Terri Glenn (@tglenn1025) September 28, 2017

Alexis Olympia champion in the making just like Mama ️️️️

— Sophia reid (@sophiareid69) September 28, 2017

Will Serena’s firstborn be a tennis star like her mom? Only time will tell!

October 02, 2017 – 11:28 BST Ainhoa Barcelona Serena Williams has shared a fun fact about her baby daughter Alexis Olympia’s name on Twitter; tennis champion welcomed first child with fiancé Alexis Ohanian

Serena Williams has shared a fun fact about her daughter’s name, revealing that Alexis Olympia is a sweet nod to the Australian Open. The tennis champion took to Twitter to write: “Fun fact my daughter’s initials are AO as in the Aussie open she won with me.” Serena was a couple of weeks pregnant in January when she won her 23rd Grand Slam in the Australian Open.

The 36-year-old became a mother for the first time on 1 September. She gave birth at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, delivering a baby girl weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces. A couple of weeks after the birth, Serena shared a gorgeous first photo with her daughter, introducing the tot to her fans. “Meet Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. You have to check out link in bio for her amazing journey. Also check out my IG stories,” she wrote.


Serena welcomed Alexis Olympia on 1 September

Serena and her fiancé Alexis Ohanian are clearly loving parenthood. The tennis ace has set up an Instagram page dedicated to her daughter, and recently wrote a heartwarming letter to her own mother. The letter read: “You are one of the strongest women I know. I was looking at my daughter (OMG, yes, I have a daughter) and she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body. I don’t know how I would react if she has to go through what I’ve gone through since I was a 15-year-old and even to this day… Mum, I’m not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman.”

Fun fact my daughters initials are AO as in the Aussie open she won with me @AustralianOpen

— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) September 28, 2017

She concluded: “Thank you for being the role model I needed to endure all the hardships that I now regard as a challenges – ones that I enjoy. I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had. Promise me, mum, that you will continue to help. I’m not sure if I am as meek and strong as you are yet. I hope to get there one day. I love you dearly.”

SERENA WILLIAMS is taking centre stage at the US Open as she seeks another title.

The women’s tennis legend takes on Canada’s Bianca Andreescu at the Flushing Meadows final.

5 Alexis Ohanian will be supporting Serena in the Wimbledon finalCredit: Getty – Contributor

But who exactly is her husband Alexis, how long has he been dating Serena and just how much is he worth?

Who is Alexis Ohanian?

Alexis Ohanian, 36, is a tech entrepreneur and best-selling author from the US.

He wrote the bestselling book Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed, which was published in 2013.

The father-of-one was born in Brooklyn, New York City, in 1983 to an Armenian-American father – whose family fled the genocide – and a German mother.

Alexis went to school in Ellicot City, Maryland, before graduating from the University of Virginia in 2005 with degrees in commerce and history.

As well as his online ventures and writing he is a political activist – specifically in matters relating to the worldwide web.

He was dubbed “Mayor of the Internet” after his battles with US lawmakers over proposed bills aimed at cracking down on online copyright breaches.

5 Alexis set up Reddit the year he graduated from uni when he was just 22 years oldCredit: Getty Images

When did he co-found Reddit and what is his net worth?

He’s most famous for co-founding social news website Reddit.

Along with business partner and fellow Virginia graduate Steve Huffman, the 6ft 5in innovator set up the now-global name at the age of just 22.

It was officially launched on 23 June 2005.

The website went from strength to strength and was eventually snapped up by publishing giant Conde Nast – owners of Wired, GQ and Vogue magazines – in 2006.

It was recently valued at £407million and is considered to be the seventh biggest site in the US.

Still a member of the site’s board of directors, Alexis was keen not to rest on his laurels.

He went on to launch social enterprise Breadpig in 2007 and helped set up travel search website Hipmunk in 2010, before co-founding the early stage venture capital firm Initialized Capital the same year.

The net worth of the new dad is estimated to be £6.7million ( $9million).

5 Serena Williams shows off her huge engagement ringCredit: Reddit

When did Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams get engaged?

Alexis and Serena got engaged in December 2016. They had been dating – secretly – for 15 months after meeting in Rome.

The couple announced the news of their engagement on their social media accounts.

The lovers also posted a picture of them grinning from ear-to-ear and Serena showing off a spectacular rock in her diamond engagement ring.

Alexis was also spotted cheering on his wife-to-be as she competed at the Australian Open.

The Reddit founder clapped and looked proud as punch as his wife-to-be won in straight sets to beat rival Belinda Bencic.

Serena went on to triumph in the final, dispatching her sister Venus to surpass Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam win tally and cement her status as the greatest of all time.

And she was around eight weeks pregnant at the time.

The tennis champ gave an interview to Vanity Fair in June sharing the details of how they fell in love, and also how she told him she was pregnant by handing him a paper bag containing six positive pregnancy tests.

5 Serena Williams with fiance Alexis Ohanian pictured shortly before their daughter’s birthCredit: Splash News 5 Credit: Instagram

Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr

When did Serena give birth?

The tennis legend revealed she was 22 weeks pregnant in mid-April,2017.

This put the baby’s due date around the end of August or beginning of September – and right on cue, the star went into labour on September 1.

She gave birth to a baby girl the same day, with America’s WPBF-25 news producer Chris Shepherd tweeting that mother and child were “doing well”.

On September 13, the tennis ace revealed she and her partner Alexis Ohanian had given birth to a baby girl and named her Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.


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Alexis married his fiancée Serena on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

The pair tied the knot at a star-studded bash in New Orleans.

A source told the Daily Mail: “Serena and Alexis chose the Contemporary Arts Center because of its incredible architecture and history.

“They have instructed Preston to fill the hall with thousands of dollars worth of crystals and flowers. The hall will be totally transformed.”

What has he said about the controversial cartoon about his wife?

After Serena’s outburst at the US Open in which she called the umpire a “thief” and a “liar”, the Herald-Sun newspaper ran featured a cartoon of her.

It featured Serena Williams as an angry baby with exaggerated features and immediately cause an outcry with critics calling it racist.

The paper ran it again and Alexis has now described it as “blatantly racist and misogynistic”.

Visibly pregnant Serena Williams poses for photographs with fiance Alexis Ohanian

Olympia Turns 2! Serena Williams Calls Daughter ‘My Greatest Accomplishment’ in Family Photo

Serena Williams is one proud mama!

As her daughter Alexis Olympia turned 2 on Sunday, the 37-year-old tennis star shared a sweet photo from the day her baby girl was born in honor of the special day.

“The last 2 years have been my greatest accomplishment,” she wrote alongside the image, which showed Williams cradling her newborn in her arms at the hospital while she and her husband Alexis Ohanian stood behind her.

Williams will be spending part of her daughter’s day away from home, as the athlete will be competing in this year’s U.S. Open tournament against Croatian player Petra Martić on Sunday afternoon.

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? .

RELATED: Serena Williams Reveals the Reason She Will Not Celebrate Her Daughter’s Birthdays

In a recent interview with Forbes, Williams opened up about how it’s often “painful” to be away from her daughter during long tournament days.

“I actually prefer playing in the day because I get to go home and see my baby,” Williams shared, adding that while “in the beginning she would realy be upset when I left, these days they’ve reversed roles.

“Now she’s a little bit better. I think I’m a little more upset. But at the same time, she definitely still takes it a little hard. She’s still super young,” Williams said.

Image zoom Serena Williams and daughter Serena Williams/Instagram Image zoom (L-R) Serena Williams, Olympia and Alexis Ohanian Serena Williams/Instagram

The mother of one went on to add that while “it’s hard” to be away from her daughter, it comes with the territory of being a working mother.

“Sometimes my heart literally aches when I’m not around her. But, you know, it’s good for me, I guess, to keep working and just — to all moms out there that it’s not easy,” she said. “It’s really kind of painful sometimes. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.”

Although Williams did commemorate her daughter’s birthday, the tennis pro and her husband won’t be throwing Olympia a birthday bash.

“Olympia doesn’t celebrate birthdays,” Williams said at a press conference last year. “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.”

According to the official website for Jehovah’s Witnesses, “although the Bible does not explicitly forbid celebrating birthdays,” followers of the church “believe that such celebrations displease God.“

Serena Williams has the best response to her daughter being a ‘wild child’

Some parents worry about raising a wild child, but Serena Williams is not one of them.

The tennis champion appeared on “Today” where she shared how much she loved raising a wild child, referring to her 1-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

“I love that my child is wild, I love that because for me it’s a different word — it’s like wild is great, why is wild a bad thing?” Williams said. “She’s curious, she has fun, she’s learning different things, so for me I love that she wants to explore and just kind of wants to be herself.”

She missed her daughter’s first steps, but it’s OK

The 37-year-old mom went on to share how her daughter skipped the crawling stage and went straight to walking. Williams said she missed Alexis’ first steps because she was at Wimbledon, but was comforted to know that it’s common to miss that moment.

“I talked about it and people were like, ‘Oh don’t worry, I missed my baby’s first steps,” and you wouldn’t believe how many people told me that,” Williams said. “So then I felt like, oh so maybe all those movies I see when the mom’s on the left and the dad’s on the right and the baby miraculously walks, maybe that’s not real.”

Meghan Markle is her soon-to-be mom BFF

Williams, who’s also close friends with Meghan Markle, told E! that she thinks the duchess will be a great mom.

“She’ll be the best mom, for sure,” the tennis star said.

Markle is pregnant with her and Prince Harry’s first child and is due to deliver soon.

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