Parenting

Serena Williams Almost Died After Giving Birth. Now She Wants To Save Other Women.

"I consider myself fortunate."
02/21/2018 11:30am ET | Updated February 27, 2018

Serena Williams knows she’s lucky to be alive.

The tennis superstar, who welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia almost six months ago, is once again opening up about the terrifying complications she experienced after giving birth, this time in an essay for CNN Opinion.

“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia. Yet I consider myself fortunate,” Williams wrote in the piece published Tuesday, before describing the complications she experienced after giving birth via cesarean section.

“It began with a pulmonary embolism, which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot. Because of my medical history with this problem, I live in fear of this situation. So, when I fell short of breath, I didn’t wait a second to alert the nurses,” she said.

After the pulmonary embolism, one of the tennis star’s C-section incisions reopened due to a coughing spell, so she was forced to head back into surgery. While in surgery, doctors located a hematoma, or a swelling of clotted blood, in her abdomen. Williams returned to the operating table for a procedure to prevent clotting. After that, she was able to go home ― but spent six weeks on bed rest.

Read her full essay at CNN.

The 36-year-old first spoke about the complications she faced in an interview with Vogue a few weeks ago, also mentioning how challenging motherhood can be.

“Sometimes I get really down and feel like, man, I can’t do this,” she told the magazine. “It’s that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that’s just who I am. No one talks about the low moments ― the pressure you feel, the incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry.”

Still, she feels lucky, considering the reality many black mothers face when giving birth.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women in the United States are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes,” Williams wrote in her CNN piece. “But this is not just a challenge in the United States.”

She explained that women around the world struggle to give birth in poor countries where they often have no drugs or doctors to save them when complications arise.

UNICEF says 80 percent of the nearly 2.6 million newborn deaths around the world each year are due to preventable causes, Williams notes. But she points out there is a solution.

“You can demand governments, businesses and health care providers do more to save these precious lives. You can donate to UNICEF and other organizations around the world working to make a difference for mothers and babies in need,” she said. “In doing so, you become part of this narrative ― making sure that one day, who you are or where you are from does not decide whether your baby gets to live or to die.”

Williams sits on the board of advisers to Oath, HuffPost’s parent company.