Serena Williams was defeated in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday, but the tennis superstar is still proud of how far she’s come.
The 36-year-old, who recently returned to the tennis circuit after the birth of her daughter and a 13-month break, skipped out on the mandatory press conference after losing to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka. But she later posted a powerful message about her progress, apparently alluding to the terrifying complications she suffered after giving birth, on Instagram.
“4 months ago I could not walk to my mailbox... but I will keep going forward and I’ll get there,” she wrote.
Williams also released a separate statement after her loss and missing out on the press conference.
“Every tournament is an opportunity for me to better understand the areas I need to improve to be my best,” she said, according to Vogue. “Naomi played a great match and I learn something each time I play. I look forward to continuing my return by progressing every day. I’m so grateful for my fans who continue to support me every step of this incredible journey.”
Williams’ journey back to tennis has been filled with highs and lows. After the tennis player gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, she experienced severe complications and nearly died.
Since then, she’s spoken up about what she went through and also made better maternal health for women, particularly women of color, a primary focus.
“I was in a really fortunate situation where I know my body well, and I am who I am, and I told the doctor: ‘I don’t feel right, something’s wrong.’ She immediately listened,” Williams said in a interview with BBC in early March. “She was great. I had a wonderful, wonderful doctor. Unfortunately a lot of African-Americans and black people don’t have the same experience that I’ve had.”
Williams sits on the board of advisers to Oath, HuffPost’s parent company.