Pregnancy announcements always make news, especially if they pertain to celebrities. This one proved no different. Serena Williams surprised the world with hers via a Snapchat picture captioned ’20 weeks’. It sure took the tennis world by storm as no one expected this news, not even her sponsors I’m sure.
20 weeks pregnant technically means that Serena was pregnant during the Australian Open too and the internet has been buzzing with articles about how winning a Grand Slam during pregnancy is such a cool yet crazy feat! But well, that’s Serena. For all those who’ve been avid tennis fans must be aware of Serena’s grit and determination to achieve excellence despite setbacks, so pregnancy and motherhood should not come as a real surprise to them.
The media said that she deleted the picture a few hours later only to have her spokesperson come and confirm the news. She will not be playing any more tournaments in 2017 and looks forward to returning back on tour in 2018.
This news must’ve come as a shock to her sponsors who must not have expected any such announcement. It could affect her endorsement deals for 2017, though you may never know we might find brands looking to cash in on this news by roping in Serena.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has given Special Ranking Rules for mothers and mothers-to-be like Serena where a player must be out for a minimum of six months and maximum of two years and has to be ranked within the Top 300 at the time she stopped playing. Players are also expected to be ready to play their first tournament within 12 months of birth which justifies Serena’s return in 2018. In Serena’s case, her special ranking would be No. 1, so her ‘planning’ couldn’t be better.
This news of Serena being out for the rest of the season might be welcomed by the other women athletes on tour who find themselves always losing to Serena. Others would finally have a chance to win major titles. This is something I have observed quite often over the years, that Serena’s domination has been so significant and consistent that whenever she is on court, she would rattle any opponent. Of course, there have been losses but for a major part she has been the dominant player. Even if she is a set down, she manages to come back and win. Beating a determined player like Serena requires a lot of effort and correct strategising from the others, something I don’t think they’ve been able to execute very well.
Hence, I believe that this period might prove to be a golden opportunity for many. No female player has been able to consistently beat Serena over the years. Not even sister Venus. Her head-to head record always shows her leading at the front, which could perhaps explain her 23 Grand Slam titles. Also, Serena is not one of those players who will look to try and play as much as she can post her return next year. She most likely will show up for the bigger tournaments and give her all to winning every match she plays, in the process, hoping to join the likes of Margaret Court and Kim Clijsters who went on to win Grand Slams post motherhood.
The legacy of Serena Williams will be difficult to beat in the future, because truly there has been no one like her. I don’t think her child will also be able to match up to the mother’s achievements simply because there are so many!
Becoming a mother will be a new chapter in Serena’s life and while becoming a parent has brought good luck to players like Kim Clijsters, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka (http://sportsdungeon.com/tennis/the-father-of-tennis/), it is to be seen what effect it brings to a player like Serena, who needs no luck.