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Tennis legend Serena Williams – who shares a four-year-old daughter with her husband Alexis Ohanian – has opened up about balancing her work life with being a parent, admitting that she often suffers with "mum guilt".
Speaking to Insider, the 40-year-old revealed that she's a "hands-on" parent, although she struggles with not being able to devote all of her time to daughter Alexis (who also goes by the name Olympia). "Mum guilt is real. I always feel so guilty when I'm doing something on my own," Williams said.
"I don't know if I'm a good mum," the tennis pro added. "I don't know if my method works, but I'm very hands-on with my daughter." Williams went on to explain that being a hands-on parent is something she learned from her own mum and dad, but means she often struggles with knowing where her work ends and motherhood begins, as well as fitting in time for herself.
"I've set really good boundaries," she pointed out, "but then after work, I'm going right to my daughter. And that's amazing and good, but now it's like, 'Okay, what happens to Serena?'"
Williams' conversation about mum guilt comes just weeks after she revealed she'd saved her own life in the hours that followed the birth of her daughter. In a personal essay for Elle, the tennis pro recalled how her quick-thinking and determination to be heard by doctors meant she escaped death after Olympia was born.
"In 2010, I learned I had blood clots in my lungs — clots that, had they not been caught in time, could have killed me. Ever since then, I’ve lived in fear of them returning," she wrote, pointing out that after welcoming her daughter via an emergency caesarean section, her medical history was seemingly overlooked.
"All I could think was, 'I’m dying, I’m dying. Oh my God'," she said, adding that she begged and fought "hard" to be heard by medical professionals. Eventually, Williams was taken for a scan, where a potentially fatal blood clot was found on her lungs leading her to go back into the operating theatre for life-saving surgery.
Five years on, the tennis pro stresses how being dismissed by doctors almost cost her her life. "In the US, Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during or after childbirth than their white counterparts. Many of these deaths are considered by experts to be preventable," she noted. "Being heard and appropriately treated was the difference between life or death for me; I know those statistics would be different if the medical establishment listened to every Black woman’s experience."
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