Serena Williams retirement experienced the prime of her life in her 40s. And last week, the tennis champion added another twist to her rich resume: retirement.
In a long, honest and provocative essay for Vogue, Williams said her desire to have a second child with her husband Alexis Ohanian. And the health risks and parenting responsibilities that come with it. Means saying goodbye to the sport she loved, dominated and redefined.
Experts say Williams has once again stayed true to her authentic self in a way that will serve as an inspiration to other women. At such a crossroads as well as a catalyst for change in the sport.
“”Serena was criticized for being loud on the court, for coming back after giving birth, so I just appreciate it. they were able, especially as a black woman, to share some understanding of their lived experience,” says Akilah Carter-Francique, dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services at Benedict College in South Carolina.
It simply says, ‘I’m human and at some point, we all have to change and enter a new aspect of our lives,'” he says. “Throughout her career, despite the criticism, she’s stepped forward and said I’m making these decisions for myself and my family. He says, ‘You’re going to be rejected no matter what you do, so you might as well do it.'”
More specifically, Williams’ declaration of independence has the potential to deepen conversations about the changes needed in professional women’s sports, whether it’s freezing tennis rankings after giving birth or placing soccer rosters during maternity leave.
“It’s fascinating to see someone with such power, wealth and fame who still feels that being a mother and competing at a high level are incompatible goals for a woman compared to a man,” says Allison.
In her essay for Vogue, Williams was open about the sacrifice it took her daughter — Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., 5, who goes by Olympia — to give her siblings.
“Believe me, I never wanted to choose between tennis and family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Willaims wrote.
Women are still expected to be the “primary caregivers”
Allison says that despite the progress men have made in recent decades in terms of taking on more responsibility for raising children, “there is still an expectation in heterosexual families that the woman will be the primary caregiver, feeding and bathing and transporting.” Not being for this often creates feelings of guilt.’
Williams admits in her essay that she has the means to provide excellent care for her child. However, she found that she could not and did not want to give up this responsibility.
“My husband will tell you I’m too handy,” she wrote. “In five years, Olympia spent only 24 hours away from me. Last year, when I was recovering from a hamstring injury, I had to pick her up from school four or five days a week, and I always looked forward to seeing her face light up when she walked out of the building and saw me waiting. there for her. The fact is, nothing is a sacrifice for me when it comes to Olympia.”
Williams highlights the reality of the dangers of pregnancy for black women
Another theme Williams raises in the essay is the inherent dangers of pregnancy for older women, especially women of colour.
“If you know the horrors and traumas associated with a pregnant black woman in this country. You know what she’s talking about,” says Brown.
Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Factors include “variations in the quality of health care, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias.”
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The four-time Olympic gold medalist and winner of 23 Grand Slam
In her farewell essay, Williams made it clear that she gave tennis her all after giving birth to her daughter. This sublime experience led to shortness of breath that plagued the tennis star. She had to convince doctors to investigate, which led to a life-saving procedure to remove the blood clot.
Championships went after Margaret Court’s record of 24 victories in the pre-Open era. With vigour as she struggled to overcome adversity.
“I had my chances after I came back from childbirth,” she wrote. So, “I went from a caesarean section to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played postpartum depression. But I didn’t get there. Should, could, could. I didn’t show up like I should have or could have.