Serena Williams Cried When She Had to Give This Up After Returning to Tennis
She says it's tough out there for new moms.
Call her crazy (she gives you permission in the new Nike ad), but Serena Williams went right back to the court after giving birth to her baby.
It wasn't exactly easy, though, no matter how flawless she made it look. In a new International Women's Day essay in Fortune, Williams says new moms have it tougher than most because of how little support they get, as well as the expectation that they have to go back to work back so soon after giving birth. Not everyone's office is a tennis court, but there was one major thing that Williams really missed when she got back to the grueling schedule of training and competing.
"I cried when I stopped breastfeeding," she wrote. "I sat with Olympia in my arms, I talked to her, we prayed about it, and I told her, 'Mommy has to do this.' I cried when I missed Olympia’s first steps because I was in training," she said. "I'm honest about my struggles as a working mom because I want other women out there to know they are not alone. We have to show ourselves and our female counterparts compassion and reality."
Williams explained that the reason she's accomplished so many things since she gave birth to her daughter Olympia is because of the support from the other women in her life — and that she's lucky because of it. Thanks to out-of-date workplace environments, she adds, many times women are afraid to ask for help. According to the athlete, though 42 percent of women seek female mentorship, most feel like their female colleagues aren't willing to help. Instead, the data she cites says that they feel a sense of competition in the workplace.
"I want to remind all women reading this about the importance of supporting one another through the highs, lows, laughs, and tears, and always asking for help when it’s needed," she said. "Trust me when I say: we’ve all been there before."
In the piece, Williams also addressed the feeling that she was letting herself and her fans down when she dropped in rankings from no. 1 to no. 453. She saw it as a sort of penalty for taking time to have children and likened it to similar challenges women face in other workplaces.
"We must stop penalizing women when they return to their careers after having children," she writes. Amen.