Serena Williams's Vogue cover story reveals that she had a smooth pregnancy but a serious health scare when it came to post-pregnancy complications.
And those post-pregnancy complications are consistent with Pro Publica's recent series investigating maternal complications and death, and overall how there's undeniable racism in America's health care system. That investigation shows how Black women are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than white women.
And Williams' post-pregnancy experience highlights that. The tennis legend reveals to Vogue how she experienced shortness of breath and believed it was due to her history of blood clots.
She told the nearest nurse that she needed a CT scan and IV heparin, a blood thinner for patients who suffer from blood clots. Instead Williams received an ultrasound of her legs.
“I was like, 'A Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,'” she told Vogue of what she told the hospital staff.
The ultrasound didn't reveal anything, but the CT scan found several small blood clots in her lungs, making nurses hook her up to an IV heparin drip just as she had originally requested.
“I was like, 'Listen to Dr. Williams!'" she said.
That set off a scary six-day ordeal in which Williams' C-section wound opened from coughing caused by the clots and the blood thinners she was on triggered hemorrhaging at the spot of her C-section. She had to have a filter inserted into a major vein to prevent more blood clots from entering her lungs, according to Vogue.
One has to think that if a rich and powerful Black woman like Williams didn't receive top-flight health care post-pregnancy, just imagine the kind of post-pregnancy care an average, everyday Black woman gets.
In fact, a Brooklyn mother that the Pro Publica report highlighted was very high risk for blood clots and died less than two days after her delivery due to a pulmonary embolism.
Although Williams got past that trying ordeal to get home, be a mom and continue to recover, she officially withdrew from the Australian Open last week, saying on Snapchat, "After giving birth I realized that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be."
Williams can't help but compare her plight to the experience of a male tennis star — say a Roger Federer.
“It’s so unfair. He produced four babies and barely missed a tournament," Williams told Vogue. "I can’t even imagine where I’d be with twins right now. Probably at the bottom of the pool.”
While Williams withdrew from the Australian Open to give herself more time, that hunger to return to the top spot is still there, although she is curious about what the status of that No. 1 position will look like upon her comeback.
“It’s interesting,” the tennis GOAT told Vogue. “There hasn’t been a clear number one since I was there. It will be cool to see if I get there again, to what I call my spot — where I feel I belong. I don’t play to be the second best or the third best. If there’s no clear number one, it’s like, yeah, I can get my spot back. But if there is a clear number one, that’s cool, too, because it’s like, yeah, I’m gonna come for you.”
Talk that talk, Queen!
Her saying that makes us await her return to the court that much more ... but only when she's fully ready.
Winning the French Open, which begins in May, would give Williams 24 Grand Slam singles titles, which would tie her with Margaret Court's 24 for the most in tennis history.
“To be honest, there’s something really attractive about the idea of moving to San Francisco and just being a mom,” Williams continued telling the publication. “But not yet. Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams. I’m well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It’s not a secret that I have my sights on 25 [Grand Slam titles]. And actually, I think having a baby might help. When I’m too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born."
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(Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Burberry)