Serena Williams is one of, if not THE greatest athlete of all time. Her countless championships and extreme abilities, not to mention her incredibly hard work, have paved the road for female athletes to come, and have proven that women are fully capable of being leaders in sport.
To top off Williams' tennis titles, the champion recently welcomed her first child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Williams was open about the struggles of being a new mom and training for her upcoming matches.
Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week--it’s ok--I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!
"Last week was not easy for me," said Williams on Instagram. "Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom."
The 36-year-old tennis star also tweeted about missing her daughter's first steps.
She took her first steps... I was training and missed it. I cried.— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) July 7, 2018
During her most recent match against Johanna Konta, Williams suffered the worst loss of her professional career. It was clear something was wrong with Williams, but she wasn't revealing just how bad it was.
"I think [Konta] played well in the second set and I think I wasn't sharp at all in the first set and she got confident and she clearly ran away with it," Williams said at the time.
Even Konta acknowledged that something was up.
"She obviously wasn't playing anywhere near her best level but I was just trying to play the match on my terms and do what I can out here and put aside the incredible champion she is and play the player on the day," Konta said.
Some people wondered if Williams was losing her touch, while others suggested perhaps the struggles of being a working mom were weighing on her.
However, the real reason was even more heartbreaking.
"I couldn't shake it out of my mind."
Though we know a lot about Serena Williams and her life, something most people don't realize is that in 2003, her half-sister Yetunde Price was murdered. Yetunde was the eldest daughter of Oracene Price, Venus and Serena's mother.
Despite working as a personal assistant to both Venus and Serena, Yetunde chose to continue her job as a nurse. She was "determined to pay her own way in the world." Yetunde left behind three children, who were 11, nine, and five at the time.
Sadly, on September 14 of 2003, Yetunde was shot and killed. She had been sitting in her SUV with her boyfriend outside of a house, when a member of the Southside Crips opened fire on their vehicle. Yetunde and her boyfriend had apparently been parked outside of a crack house, and the shooter, Robert Edward Maxfield, thought was "defending the house from gangland rivals."
Yetunde was shot in the head and brought to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Police determined that neither she nor her partner were involved with the crack house, and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"We are extremely shocked, saddened and devastated by the shooting death of our beloved Yetunde," the Williams family said in a statement. "She was our nucleus and our rock. She was personal assistant, confidant, and adviser to her sisters, and her death leaves a void that can never be filled. Our grief is overwhelming, and this is the saddest day of our lives."
Maxfield was sentenced in 2006 to 15 years in prison, but he was recently released early for good behavior.
It just so happens that the the news broke was the same day Williams was set to play Johanna Konta, and the tennis superstar found out about the release on Instagram.
In an interview with TIME, Williams said she was scrolling through her Instagram feed 10 minutes before her match when she found out that Maxfield had been released.
“I couldn’t shake it out of my mind,” Serena said. “It was hard because all I think about is her kids and what they meant to me. And how much I love them.”
“No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behavior,” she said. “It’s unfair that she’ll never have an opportunity to hug me. But also …The Bible talks about forgiveness. I’m not there yet. I would like to practice what I preach, and teach Olympia that as well. I want to forgive. I have to get there. I’ll be there.”
Williams deserves immense credit for still playing in the match, despite finding out such personal and heartbreaking news. The fact that she's able to talk openly about her struggles is what makes her a real champion.
Did you know about Serena Williams' sister?