What's A-Parent

Serena Williams On Postpartum Depression And Knowing 'It's OK' Not To Be OK

"Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom."

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams is widely considered the greatest tennis player of all time, but as her personal life has changed in the last 10 months after the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, her professional life has been impacted as well. 

On August 1, the 36-year-old lost to British tennis player Johanna Konta at the Silicon Valley Classic and later withdrew from the Rogers Cup in Montreal, citing personal reasons.

To explain those reasons, Williams took to social media and opened up about her difficulties balancing motherhood with her professional athlete career

"Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom," she wrote on August 6. "I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal." 

"It's totally normal to feel like I'm not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I'm trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I'm not around as much as I would like to be," she continued in the post, shared on Instagram and Twitter. 

"I'm here to say: if you are having a rough day or week--it's ok--I am, too!!! There's always tomm!" she concluded in the post. Not only was Williams brave enough to share her struggles with postpartum depression (PPD),  she used her platform to inspire and encourage fellow mothers, roughly 15 percent of whom also suffer from PPD. 

Her honesty clearly resonated with her followers, receiving nearly 400,000 likes on Instagram and 35,000 likes on Twitter. Many even commented on the post with their own words of encouragement for the new mom. "You're doing great, mama! We got this!" one Instagram user wrote. "Let them feelings come and go. You're awesome Serena. Motherhood isnt [sic] easy. And it often feels like your best will not be good enough. But it is," another commented. "And your baby loves you more than anything or anybody." 

Fellow professional athlete and mom, six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, retweeted Williams' tweet and added, "The struggle is real @serenawilliams but they turn out OK and she will thank you someday for living your dream:) #onedayatatime."

This isn't the first time Williams has used her tennis champion status to champion for mothers everywhere. Just last month, she paid tribute to her fellow moms in an interview after losing to German player Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon. "I was really happy to get this far. It's obviously disappointing, but I can't be disappointed. I have so much to look forward to," she told the interviewer. "...To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today."

Whatever the outcome of Williams' next match — whenever that may be — by being open about her mental health and encouraging her fellow moms to take care of theirs, she's already scored a huge win. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression you can seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, the NDMDA Depression Hotline at 800-826-3632, and/or the Parental Stress Hotline at 800-632-8188.

Cover image via Jimmie48 Photography on Shutterstock

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