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Serena Williams of the United States celebrates winning her women's singles quarterfinals match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London on July 10, 2018.
Ben Curtis/AP
Girls & Women

Serena Williams Asked Moms to Share Their Stories — And They Came Through


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Around the world, working women face discrimination and are penalized when they take time off to start a family — and that includes female athletes. Serena Williams has been vocal about her struggle to balance her work life and her family, and her willingness to speak out about her personal journey is challenging gender inequality and empowering other working moms to do the same. You can take action here to help eliminate gender discrimination.

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.

Take Action: Sign this petition to #LeveltheLaw and empower girls and women around the world!

“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.

And moms around the world now have the Twitterverse both laughing and in awe of their strength and resilience.

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.

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.

Read More: Serena Williams' Husband Is in Awe of Her 'Mom Strength Button'

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.”

Read More: Serena Williams’ Scary Childbirth Story Is Part of a Larger Pattern of Discrimination Against Black Moms

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.”