Serena Williams is enjoying her downtime off the tour, after inadvertently announcing her pregnancy a few months ago. She’s been traveling and vacationing, she’s been announcing new business ventures and she’s been watching her sister and her friends play on the tour. She also took the time to pose for the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Serena recreates – with her own spin – the iconic Demi Moore-pregnancy cover, and you can see all of the Annie Leibovitz photos here at VF. In addition to the naked-bump photos, Serena also did a series of photos with her fiance Alexis Ohanian. The VF article is all about their love story too, which is amazing, and a great read. What comes through is that Alexis is SO into her. He’s been into her from the very beginning, and Serena allows him to be into her. Some highlights from the story:
Alexis had never even been a tennis fan: Alexis had never seen a tennis match until he met Serena, in May of 2015 in Rome. He says he “never watched a match on television or in real life. It was literally the sport—even if ESPN was announcing tennis updates, I would just zone out. . . . I really had no respect for tennis.”
When Serena decided to take the pregnancy test: After playing poorly in her first match of the year, in which she felt she had missed too many backhands, she went to the practice court and for two and a half to three hours hit 2,500 of them, by her estimation. If she missed one, she started over. She did roughly the same the next practice day. But she felt a little different physically. She had unexpectedly thrown up at one point and her breasts had enlarged. She thought it might be hormonal. But her friend Jessica Steindorff immediately suspected something else and suggested a pregnancy test. Serena thought it was ludicrous. Jessica worked on her for two days until Serena relented, and so Jessica went to a pharmacy and bought a pregnancy kit. “I’ll take it just because (a) to prove you wrong and (b) because it’s fun, whatever. It’s like a joke. Why not?”
Taking the test: That Friday, as Serena was doing her hair and makeup for an event sponsored by the lingerie company Berlei, where she is a spokesperson for its line of sports bras, she took the test in the bathroom. “I put it down. I went back to finishing hair and makeup, was laughing, talking. I was getting the styling done. An hour and a half later, I went back to the bathroom and I totally forgot about it because it was impossible for me. . . . So I went back to get dressed and I went back in the bathroom and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that test.’ ” Jessica shrieked in delight at the results. Serena, as she put it, “did a double take and my heart dropped. Like literally it dropped. “Oh my God, this can’t be—I’ve got to play a tournament,” said Serena. “How am I going to play the Australian Open? I had planned on winning Wimbledon this year.”
How pregnant was Serena during the Australian Open? The Australian Open was about to begin, and an immediate medical determination had to be made on what risk there might be in playing. The doctor who examined her thought she was about three or four weeks pregnant—it was almost impossibly hard to tell because the fetus was so small—and said there was no risk whatsoever. When Serena returned to the States and had a subsequent exam, it was discovered that she had actually been more advanced, about seven to eight weeks, but she said she still would have played. There were only five people who knew during the tournament: Alexis, Jessica, Jill, Venus, and the doctor. Not even Serena’s coach knew. Nor did tournament officials.
She still doesn’t know what to make of it: “it just doesn’t seem real. I don’t know why. Am I having a baby? If you would have told me last year in October or November that I would have a baby, not be pregnant but have a baby, I would have thought you were the biggest liar in the world. This is kind of how I am right now. This is happening sooner than later, and it’s going by so fast… I don’t know what to do with a baby. I have nothing. . . . I’ve done absolutely nothing for the baby room.”
The marriage: Alexis is looking forward to the marriage. Serena, with tongue floating somewhere in cheek, says, “I’m trying to enjoy the little freedom I have left.”
I love that one of Serena’s first thoughts, upon realizing that she was knocked up, was “but I was going to win Wimbledon this year!” Serena also admits that she realized her people were manipulating her to go to Rome last year just so Alexis could propose to her. Like, she knew she was about to be proposed to and she had to hype herself up for it and give herself a pep talk. It’s amazing. Anyway, this whole article is a complete joy. I think it’s great that Serena ended up with a guy who basically fell for her at first sight.
Photos courtesy of Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair.