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Serena Williams — athlete, philanthropist, fashion icon — wasn’t expecting to become a mother. At least not so soon. 

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the winner of 23 Grand-Slam titles in tennis recounted her shock upon learning that she was pregnant back in January of this year. 

“Oh my God, this can’t be,” she told Vanity Fair, reflecting on the moment she found out she was pregnant. “I’ve got to play a tournament.” 

But Williams, always graceful under pressure, emerged from her initial moment of maternal shock into a confident and stoic mother-to-be — on display in her recent photoshoot with famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. 

Read More: Serena Williams Literally Helped Build a School, and It's Not Her First

Williams’ Vanity Fair cover harkened back to a similarly iconic 1991 cover by the same photographer for the same magazine, which featured actress Demi Moore. In both covers, the women posed naked, covering their breasts and baring their baby bumps proudly. 

Williams’ pregnancy photoshoot also follows in the footsteps of singer Beyonce, actress Nia Long, and athlete Kerri Walsh Jennings, all of whom posed naked, or minimally clothed, in later stages of pregnancy. 

Williams, for her part, has not let her pregnancy prevent her from pursuing greatness on the tennis court.  


Read More: This Woman Just Ran an 800-Meter Race While Pregnant to Inspire Women Everywhere

After learning of her pregnancy, the tennis player nonetheless competed in the Australian Open when she was eight weeks pregnant, winning the tournament without dropping a set. 

In her Vanity Fair profile, Williams indicated she’s not done there. 

“I don’t think my story is over yet,” Williams said. 

One Grand-Slam win away from the all-time singles record, the athlete, known for her intense competitiveness, is showing that being a bad-ass mother doesn't preclude anyone from also being a bad-ass competitor.


Demand Equity

Serena Williams’ Vanity Fair Cover Is a Celebration of Motherhood

By Phineas Rueckert