While the pro tennis player enjoyed a “pretty easy” pregnancy with her first child by husband Alexis Ohanian, 35, her story took a tragic turn as soon as she entered the delivery room.
During a tell-all interview with PEOPLE, Williams, 36, confessed she feared for hers and her daughter’s lives when she started having complications during the birth.
With every contraction she had, her unborn daughter’s heart rate dropped, causing doctors to perform an emergency C-section.
“That was the scariest part,” recalled Williams. “I didn’t flinch. [I thought] ‘Just do whatever’s best for the baby.’”
Thankfully, her daughter was delivered safely, but William’ health ailments had just begun. As soon as the surgery was over, the tennis star started developing life-threatening blood clots near her lungs (something she’d previously suffered).
“I was like, ‘This is what I need, this is what’s going on, this is the treatment for it,’” she recalled after telling the nurses how to treat her.
“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter,” the new-mom admitted in her interview. “My whole life I’ve been pushing my body to the limits. This was the one time where I couldn’t control anything.”
Williams said her anxiety grew when she remembered “Women of color have a huge chance, compared to other races, of not surviving [childbirth].”
“We deserve for people to hear us when we say, ‘I’m not okay,’” stated the athlete.
In her new HBO documentary Being Serena, Williams also told viewers that she remembers the experience — which occurred eight months ago — “like it was yesterday.”
Luckily, despite her many health crises, Serena Williams and her baby daughter made it out alive.
“I just feel so blessed and so lucky,” concluded Williams in her interview.