Since giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. last year, Serena Williams has been open about the joys of motherhood and the challenges she faces as a working woman balancing her family and career.
Now she’s asking others to do the same.
“Kids humble us. The other day on a flight home Olympia insisted on running up and down the aisle, and when I finally got her to sit still, she threw up all over me,” the tennis star shared in a Twitter post on Sunday.
“#ThisMama would love to hear your stories of motherhood... even ones like this!” Williams added, inviting others to respond and normalize their struggles.
Kids humble us. The other day on a flight home Olympia insisted on running up and down the aisle and when I finally got her to sit still, she threw up all over me. #ThisMama would love to hear your stories of motherhood.. even ones like this! Share and tag them with #ThisMama. pic.twitter.com/9N5duB2M3t— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) August 26, 2018
And moms around the world now have the Twitterverse both laughing and in awe of their strength and resilience.
We dropped our daughter off for her first year of college. During lunch with her roommate’s family she said that she thought I sat at home waiting for her to return from school every day. 😂I own my own business and I busted my behind to schedule around my family. #thismamapic.twitter.com/st8J24bcUv— Michelle A. Smith (@MichelleASmith2) August 27, 2018
You’re doing great, #SuperHero! My kid reminds me daily that he has a mind of his own. Tomorrow he starts #school for the very first time as I start my full time #teaching job. Since he was born I’ve worked from home, so it’s a going to be a big day for both of us! #singlemompic.twitter.com/gCpsjOPh4A— Alex Sukhoy, M.B.A. (@creativecadence) August 26, 2018
I took my kids to work with me every day. My husband and I would discuss work at home. One day my oldest walked around the office and told one of my employees “my mommy is going to fire you”. From that day on we talked in code words. #ThisMama— josie (@jodelblue) August 26, 2018
My daughter and I planted some seeds together, hoping to grow flowers. I went outside to water them and told her to watch. She locked the sliding glass door on me. #ThisMama got locked out of the house by her two year old— Megan (@m_pedrianes) August 26, 2018
Wait till she starts talking. I'm a professional opera singer and as toddler my son HATED my voice. I could make audiences cry or cheer with my sound but whenever I tried to practice at home I'd hear "Too loud Mommy. Too loud." Humbling indeed. At 14 he's proud of #thismamma— Margaret Lattimore (@frecklesml) August 27, 2018
His first night in my home he said” I won’t be staying long, no one ever keeps me, I’m unloveable” he was 6. #ThisMama knew she had to change his world. 3 years later he changed mine. ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/i5TV0XjJIR— Oh- Twit (@OOOhTwit) August 27, 2018
#ThisMama I am currently battling with my youngest son (8 1/2) to complete his math homework. I am also a teacher, so I'm conflicted with my homework rage. While I occasionally assign HW to my 7th graders, I hate when my own sons have HW. #whatswrongwithme— Carrie Cross (@carriecross1974) August 26, 2018
Williams will be playing in the US Open, which begins on Aug. 27, for the first time since giving birth — but she doesn’t want to call it a comeback, she said in a recent video produced in partnership with Chase Bank.
#ThisMama is making her return to the US Open for the first time since having Olympia and I am stronger than ever thanks to all of the love and support you’ve all shown me! @Chasepic.twitter.com/6ds4rdJCWF— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) August 22, 2018
Williams has faced great pressure since returning to the court.
Historically, female tennis players who take time off when pregnant are given “protected rankings” that enable them to enter tournaments after maternity leave, but do not put them into brackets as seeded players, effectively punishing them for starting families, Slate reported.
The system of seeding players helps ensure that top players, like Williams, make it into the later rounds of a tournament by delaying their matches against each other. The practice of not seeding women who leave the game to start families can jeopardize the careers of female tennis players. It also reinforces inherent gender discrimination that follows as a result of women having to take time off from the sport during pregnancy.
“It’s so unfair,” Serena complained. “[Novak Djokovic] produced four babies and barely missed a tournament. I can’t even imagine where I’d be with twins right now. Probably at the bottom of the pool.”
But things are starting to change.
Williams was not seeded at this year’s French Open, but was seeded at the Wimbledon Championship. Though Williams lost the final, she deemed the match a different kind of win.
“I dedicated that to all the moms out there who’ve been through a lot,” she told Time, referring to her run at Wimbledon. “Some days, I cry. I’m really sad. I’ve had meltdowns. It’s been a really tough 11 months. If I can do it, you guys can do it too.”
Williams is the No. 17 seed at the US Open, which revised its policy for seeding players returning from maternity leave after the French Open was criticized for its handling of Williams’ return, according to the New York Times.
“It’s the right thing to do for these mothers that are coming back,” president and chairwoman of the United States Tennis Association Katrina Adams told the Times of the decision to change the policy. “We think it’s a good message for our current female players and future players … It’s OK to go out and be a woman and become a mother and then come back to your job, and I think that’s a bigger message.”