In a new interview with Vanity Fair, featuring amazing photos by Annie Leibovitz, Serena Williams talks about learning she was pregnant, how she broke the news to her husband-to-be, and her plan to get back into tennis-playing shape by January 2018.
Williams says she first learned she was pregnant in January of this year, in the week before the Australian Open.
Her first match of the year didn’t go so well, and Williams was determined to practise until she wasn’t making mistakes anymore. But things felt different. She threw up, and her breasts were enlarged. Her friend Jessica Steindorff suggested a pregnancy test.
Williams didn’t believe it but took the test for her friend.
“I put it down. I went back to finishing hair and makeup, was laughing, talking,” Williams says. “I was getting the styling done. An hour and a half later, I went back to the bathroom and I totally forgot about it because it was impossible for me… So I went back to get dressed and I went back in the bathroom and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that test.'”
It turned out Williams was pregnant. She says her “heart dropped. Like literally it dropped.”
Williams did five more tests, just in case there had been some mistake. They all came back positive.
In the cover story, written by “Friday Night Lights” author Buzz Bissinger, The tennis superstar tells the whole story, from how she met Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at the Cavalieri Hotel in Rome in May 2015, their engagement, and the pregnancy, to their upcoming wedding this fall.
“This big guy comes and he just plops down at the table next to us,” Serena says of the first time she met Ohanian, “and I’m like, ‘Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?'”
From that chance meeting, a love blossomed. By April 2016, Ohanian says he already knew he wanted to marry Williams.
“I felt like a door had been opened to a person who made me want to be my best self,” Ohanian says of the couple’s relationship. “I find myself just wanting to be better by simply being around her because of the standard she holds.”
Ohanian proposed in December 2016, and January came the pregnancy.
Williams says she called Ohanian and told him to get on a flight to Melbourne, Australia, earlier than he had planned, without telling him why.
When Ohanian arrived, Williams said nothing, instead handing him a paper bag with the positive pregnancy tests.
After determining with a doctor that the pregnancy was still early enough for Williams to play in the Australian Open, she went on to win the tournament despite her reduced endurance.
“If you would have told me last year in October or November that I would have a baby, not be pregnant but have a baby,” Williams says, “I would have thought you were the biggest liar in the world. This is kind of how I am right now. This is happening sooner than later, and it’s going by so fast.”
Williams and Ohanian are maintaining their relationship as a bi-coastal one until marriage.
“I’m trying to enjoy the little freedom I have left,” Williams says.
The couple plan to be married this fall after the baby is born.
Williams says she will be back on the court in January 2018.
“I don’t think my story is over yet,” she says.