Serena Williams is living her best life. In January, the tennis star won a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open, solidifying her status as one of the greatest athletes of all time. A month before, she announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and last week she revealed via Snapchat that they are expecting their first child. While the announcement sparked speculation about her future in tennis, Williams' latest Instagram post shows the baby won't impact her career. In a note to her future child, the star wrote of her excitement for motherhood, but also gave a sly promise to hold onto her position in the tennis world.
The notion that having a child would push Williams' into retirement is ridiculous, as many female athletes have continued to have successful careers through and after pregnancy. This, and the surprise in some sports' commentary that the star played the Australian open tournament at eight weeks, demonstrate some flaws in how we view female athleticism. While Williams will take the rest of her season off, she's already clarified she intends to return to the tournament circuit in 2018. “Serena said that I should make sure if anyone asks that that is clear,” her spokesperson Kelly Bush Novak told the New York Times.
Williams' Instagram post on Monday further proves that the star doesn't intend on giving up her number one position.
In the pic, Williams lounges on the beach and her caption has a message for her future baby (and fans). It reads:
The brief note starts off with a message for her future child, and it's clear that she's really looking forward to motherhood. However, it also notes how excited she is to "share being number one in the world with you....once again today." Williams' is once again #1 in Women's Tennis Association Rankings, making her the oldest woman to ever hold that spot. If this pic and caption is any indication, she doesn't intend to relinquish that title anytime soon.
Williams returning to the game next year will add her to a long legacy of female athletes who have remained competitive post-pregnancy. Volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings won gold in the London Olympics while pregnant, and her Olympic career has not slowed since. Kim Clijsters, another tennis champion, won the U.S. open in 2009 shortly after giving birth to her first child. While the persistence of these women is noteworthy, the fact that anyone doubts a woman's ability to return to her sport shows how warped the public perception of pregnancy and athleticism is.
In the Insta post, Williams also writes to her baby "I can't wait to meet you. I can't wait for you to join the player's box." While it's an adorable message for the child, it also may be the champion shutting down speculation that she wouldn't return to the tennis court. There just might be one more little cheerleader rooting for her from the sidelines.
“I think if Serena wants to come back after having a baby, I think she’s proven at this point that age is not a big factor for her,” Pam Shriver, a sports analyst and former player, told the New York Times. “I don’t think it really matters if you’re 35 or 37 or 38. You’re part of that same age group, and once you’ve gotten over that mental hump of competing at this higher level in your 30s, which she obviously has, it is certainly possible.”
If anyone had doubts that Williams could continue to contend as a world champion, this post shuts those down. It's clear that she will be a #1 mom and #1 in the world, no matter what. It's definitely a super exciting time in the tennis star's life, and let's hope she continues to keep us Insta-updated.