Serena Williams was completely taken aback by her pregnancy, taking six home tests before believing she was expecting her first child, the tennis superstar told Vanity Fair.
Williams, who poses nude on the cover of the magazine for its August issue, shot by Annie Liebovitz, said she still had not come to terms with the prospect of being a mother, and said she plans to be back on court in January.
“It just doesn’t seem real. I don’t know why. Am I having a baby?” Williams, 35, said in the interview released on Tuesday.
The No. 1 ranked tennis player, interviewed in May when she was six months pregnant, said she had made no preparations.
“I don’t know what to do with a baby… I’ve done absolutely nothing for the baby room,” she said.
Williams is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
She recalled to the magazine the very first time the couple met, at the Cavalieri hotel, in Rome, before Williams had played her first match in the 2015 Italian Open.
“This big guy comes and he just plops down at the table next to us, and I’m like, ‘Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?,’ ” Williams, who had been sitting with her entourage ordering breakfast, said (Ohanian protested to Vanity Fair that the pool area was “not quite so empty”).
Expecting more to join them at breakfast, Williams’ Australian friend Zane Haupt, joked there was a rat near his table. When Ohanian asked him if he was serious, Williams piped up.
“No, we just don’t want you sitting there. We’re going to use that table.”
“I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time.”
“Oh, you’re not afraid of rats?”
She then invited Ohanian to join them at their table. Ohanian said he was “98 per cent” sure he knew who she was. The pair spoke about tech and she gave him her number, but a plan to meet for dinner fell through.
It was not until the French Open the following year that Ohanian went on what would be considered a date. She texted him to say she was “bummed” he had only seen her play poorly at the Italian Open, and wanted him to meet her in Paris. He did, and the pair spent six hours walking around the city, going to the zoo and eating lollies.
Ohanian proposed at the Cavalieri hotel on December 10, 2016, at the table in the pool area where they first met, they told Vanity Fair.
Williams confirmed in April that she was expecting a baby in the fall after posting on Snapchat, and then deleting, a picture of herself in a swimsuit with the caption “20 weeks”, later revealing she had only meant to screenshot the image for herself.
She said she would take maternity leave through the remainder of 2017.
Williams told Vanity Fair she found out she was pregnant about a week before winning her record 23rd Grand Slam tournament singles title at the Australian Open in January.
She said she had felt off her game but thought her hormones were acting up. A friend suggested she take a pregnancy test and when it came back positive she “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,” Williams recounted her emotions to Vanity Fair. “How am I going to play the Australian Open? I had planned on winning Wimbledon this year.”
She took five more home tests and later presented all six to Ohanian, who was as shocked as she was. She said her fiance now was earnestly preparing for the new arrival and has already started a swear jar to prevent him from using profanity around the baby.
Williams gave no dates but said she expects to return to the circuit as soon as January, adding “I don’t think my story is over yet.”