Celebrating a true sporting idol this International Women’s Day

Every year, a new sporting star is born. Be it a surprise breakthrough at an Olympic Games or a fresh pair of legs which scores the deciding goal, there will always be fresh talent hoping to reach the dizzy heights of sporting stardom. But, there will always be one name to top the sporting legend charts.

Serena Williams, along with her sister Venus, has sat at the very top of the sporting ranks since her first US Open Grand Slam win against Martina Hingis in 1999. With exactly 100 competition wins under her belt including 23 Grand Slam singles and an Olympic Gold medal, Williams has stood proudly as an icon for women across the globe for almost two decades.

An inspiration to generations of Women and budding athletes, Williams continues to push herself forward as she officially announces her return to tennis, just five months after the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia in September 2017. 

Williams will be competing in the Fed Cup against the Netherlands on February 10 and 11 in North Carolina, helping Team USA defend its title. This will be the first time in two years that a Williams sister has competed on the team.

The Challenges

Williams continued to work out and train throughout most of her pregnancy, but her delivery came with some serious complications, including an emergency C-section followed by a pulmonary embolism (a potentially life-threatening condition in which blood clots travel to the lungs) as well as haemorrhaging at the site of her C-section stitches.

Overcoming such physical and emotional challenges is common for Athletes from junior-level through to Elite status. It’s not just the pressures of parenthood, but the challenges of getting back on top form. Mentally, this can cause anxiety and depression, a common problem faced by athletes upon leaving the sport too.

Ben Paszkowec, a former elite professional Football player, now transition support psychologist at Athlete Career Transition comments; “It’s very common for elite sports stars to go through a period of anxiety and depression whilst going through a life-event or deciding to retire from their professional sporting careers.

It’s especially challenging for stars at the highest level who, like Serena Williams, are consistently in the spotlight. We often see sports stars struggling to come to terms with the changes and we see it as our responsibility to support them through that transitional phase.”

Athlete Career Transition support the transition of athletes from professional sport to the workplace providing mental support, skills development opportunities and rewarding careers.

Williams was scheduled to play in the Australian Open earlier this month, but she decided to pull out of the event after her loss against Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open on December 30. “After performing in my first match after giving birth I realized that although I am super close I’m not where I personally want to be,” she wrote in a statement regarding her decision to withdraw from the tournament. “My coach and team always said, ‘Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ With that being said I am disappointed to say I’ve decided not to compete in The Australian Open this year.”

Having won the 2017 open when she was a few weeks pregnant with Olympia, Williams noted that “the memory of last year’s Open is one that I will carry with me,” and that she looks forward to coming back to compete again in the future.

Serena Williams; a continued symbol of strength, independence and determination to Women across the Globe.

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