Serena Williams covers the Melbourne Herald Sun’s weekly magazine, Stellar, and I’ve been seeing quotes from this interview all week. I apologize for not getting to it sooner, I just thought that Serena had given some milquetoast “I can’t wait for the baby!” interview. While I’m so excited for Serena – she’s due to give birth during the US Open – I realize that not everyone is as jazzed as me. And now Serena has stepped into controversy because of this interview. She talks about her excitement and apprehension now that her due date is so close, but she also says that she’s about to be a “real woman”… now that she’s going to go through childbirth. Because only moms are real women? You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
On birthing videos: “I don’t think watching birthing videos helps. I actually think it makes it worse. Having a baby, nothing is guaranteed.”
How a baby will affect her game: “That’s the scariest thing. [But] I think [giving birth] will give me more strength, if that’s possible, and a lot more confidence. I feel like I will be ready for anything.”
The idea of giving birth: “I have so much respect for so many women [for giving birth]. I am about to be a real woman now, you know? It’s going to be something incredibly impressive to go through.”
Growing up as a devout Jehovah’s Witness: “I really like how I grew up. I had a lot of humility. No matter what’s happened, I am the most level-headed person you will ever meet. I am no better than anyone else. It’s something we are working on: ‘How do we keep our baby humble?’ We haven’t come up with an answer yet, but having a strong spiritual background helps. I really think we have to keep referencing the importance of humility.”
Alexis Ohanian is taking a daddy-class: “Who knows, maybe it’s a gambling class, maybe they hang out and have beers or watch sport,” Williams jokes. She is actually a little envious. “I have never been around babies. I need a Baby 101 class — they don’t have one for the women! He’ll probably know more [than me] after his four-hour course.”
Whether she’ll force her kid to play tennis: “Whatever they want to do, they can do. If they want to be a piano player, I’m here to support them. I’m not going to say, ‘You have to play tennis.’ I wouldn’t even put a tennis racket in their hand. That may be a little bit of pressure. What they want to do is up to them.”
She doesn’t get why she’s compared to male players: “Why are they not comparing Roger [Federer] to me? There are barriers I hope to break so my baby, whether boy or girl, won’t have to live under those stipulations. I definitely am a feminist. I like to stick up for women and women’s rights. So many things happen and I just think, ‘Wow, why don’t we have a chance?’ If that makes me a feminist, I am proud to be one.”
First of all, I think she’s probably terrified of giving birth. She’s been through a lot of physical pain before, but I bet you anything that she’s like me, in that birthing videos make her nauseous and the idea of childbirth is really scary. So put the “real woman” comment in that context – I’m not saying Serena should have said it, I’m just saying… give her a break. We know by now that she doesn’t believe that womanhood is determined by the ability to give birth, or that one can only be a “real woman” if you’re a mother. If I truly thought Serena really believed that, I would be yelling too.
Here’s a photo from Serena’s baby shower, which she had last weekend. It was ‘50s themed.
Photos courtesy of Instagram, WENN.