Serena Williams reveals the reason why she was told to stop breastfeeding by her male coach
Serena Williams is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Her performance at the 2018 French Open in May marked her return to the court after being on maternity leave. Since then, she's been juggling being a mother to daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, with her tennis career and launching an eponymous clothing line built around motivational messaging and self-love. In other words, her star is certainly on the rise.
But Serena still has to contend with the realities of having a newborn - that is, the sleep deprivation, crying, and endless amounts of nappies. One thing, however, that the 36-year-old has been unable to do of late is breastfeed. In a revealing new interview with Time magazine, the tennis player discussed making the difficult decision to stop breastfeeding her 11-month-old daughter - at the recommendation of her male coach.
Serena spoke about how she nursed Alexis for eight months, despite concerns that it would make her return to professional tennis more challenging. After she resumed clay-court training in France her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, recommended that she stop breastfeeding entirely. Understandably, Serena was unhappy with Mouratoglou's suggestion initially.
"It’s absolutely hard to take from a guy," Serena told the publication. “He’s not a woman, he doesn’t understand that connection, that the best time of the day for me was when I tried to feed her. I’ve spent my whole life making everyone happy, just servicing it seems like everyone. And this is something I wanted to do."
Eventually, however, Serena decided that in order to advance her career, she would quit breastfeeding. But before she did, she let Alexis know of the impending change."I looked at Olympia, and I was like, ‘Listen, Mommy needs to get her body back, so Mommy’s going to stop now,’" she recalled. "We had a really good conversation. We talked it out."
The mother-of-one went on to compete in Wimbledon, where she made it to the finals before losing to Angelique Kerber. Taking second place less than a year after giving birth is certainly an incredible feat, and it's something that Serena acknowledged in her post-match interview.
Serena, who who holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles among active players, also recently opened up about her struggle with body positivity growing up. "It was hard for me. People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong. I was different to Venus: she was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular – and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different," she told Harper's Bazaar.
"Oh God, I’ll never be a size 4! Why would I want to do that, and be that?" she continued. "This is me, and this is my weapon and machine. But I love that I said that, because I can understand. I can show Olympia that I struggled, but now I’m happy with who I am and what I am and what I look like... Olympia was born and she had my arms, and instead of being sad and fearful about what people would say about her, I was just so happy."
Well, good on Serena for being so candid about an issue which is difficult to talk about publicly!