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After Serena Williams gave birth, 'Everything went bad'

In January 2017, two months into her pregnancy, tennis superstar Serena Williams competed in -- and won -- the Austra...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 6:13 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 6:13 PM

In January 2017, two months into her pregnancy, tennis superstar Serena Williams competed in -- and won -- the Australian Open. At 20 weeks pregnant, with the smallest of baby bumps, she posted a picture on Snapchat of her athletic body, in a yellow bikini. Hers was a fortunate and healthy pregnancy, by any standard.

However, the days and weeks following the September birth of daughter Alexis Olympia was difficult, according to a recent Vogue magazine interview.

The 36-year-old tennis star developed blood clots in her lungs after giving birth

She had two operations before leaving the hospital

When contractions began, baby Olympia's heartrate plunged. An emergency cesarean section was performed, and Williams' experience with this common surgery -- nearly a third of births in the United States are C-sections -- was flawless.

According to Vogue, Alexis Ohanian, the happy father and co-founder of Reddit, cut the cord, and Olympia was laid on her mother's chest.

"And then everything went bad," Williams, 36, told Vogue in an interview confirmed by her publicist.

Despite her obvious strength and good health, the world champion tennis player has a history of blood clots. Clots that form within veins or arteries disrupt the circulatory system and can damage the organs. Smoking, overweight and obesity, and genetics are all factors that may cause blood clotting.

Williams takes blood thinners every day to prevent clots from forming. After the C-section, though, she stopped taking them to allow the surgical wound to heal.

The next day, off the medication, the 23-time Grand Slam winner began to gasp as she recovered in her hospital room.

Not wanting to worry her visiting mother, Williams stepped into the hall and flagged a nearby nurse, insisting that she needed an IV with heparin, a blood thinner, and a CT scan to check for clots.

Read: Childbirth is killing black women in the US, and here's why

The nurse believed that medications might have befuddled Williams, Vogue says, but a doctor arrived -- only to perform an ultrasound, not the requested scan.

The ultrasound revealed nothing, and according to Vogue, Williams reiterated: "I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip." Obeying her request for the scan, the medical team found several small blood clots in her lungs and immediately began the medication.

Williams' physical instincts were correct. Still, a six-day medical crisis followed.

First, her C-section wound reopened after a coughing spell caused by the clots in her lungs.

Next, she returned to surgery to correct the lung clot, called a pulmonary embolism, and her medical team found a large hematoma, or clotted blood in the tissue, in her abdomen. The cause: the blood thinner she'd resumed.

Another operation allowed a surgeon to insert a filter into a major vein to prevent more clots from dislodging and traveling to Williams' lungs.

Finally, a week after the birth, she returned to her Florida home. Sadly, the new mother found no comfort in her daughter's cries.

The medical ordeal combined with new motherhood temporarily overwhelmed Williams. She spent six weeks in bed.

"I was happy to change diapers," Ohanian, who married Williams in November, told Vogue, adding that the hardest part was "not being able to help."

Williams told the magazine she felt depressed sometimes.

"No one talks about the low moments," Williams said. "The incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry. Or I'll get angry about the crying, then sad about being angry, and then guilty, like, 'Why do I feel so sad when I have a beautiful baby?' The emotions are insane."

Today, Williams is raising her daughter and has made a return to the tennis court.

On December 30, she lost an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Based on this uncharacteristic result, Williams pulled out of the Australian Open, which starts Monday, and continues to train. Her schedule did not permit time for an interview with CNN.

Williams' sights remain set on the record of 24 Grand Slam titles held by Margaret Court -- though she won't push baby Olympia to follow her path. "I'm so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 297321

Reported Deaths: 6805
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19814231
Hinds18949395
Harrison16886282
Rankin12842265
Jackson12750234
Lee9720163
Madison9516204
Jones8035148
Forrest7289138
Lauderdale6872228
Lowndes6061140
Lamar593381
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Washington5232130
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Panola433698
Pearl River4212132
Warren4144115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall405995
Monroe3996129
Union397174
Neshoba3848171
Lincoln3624104
Hancock352978
Leflore3400121
Sunflower320986
Tate303974
Pike302697
Scott296171
Alcorn292763
Yazoo292066
Itawamba290675
Coahoma283069
Tippah280065
Copiah279959
Simpson277581
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255641
Leake254172
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George232745
Newton232753
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Holmes182870
Clay179452
Stone173429
Tallahatchie171739
Clarke170773
Calhoun158628
Smith153833
Yalobusha145736
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123235
Lawrence121421
Carroll119425
Amite112435
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99824
Claiborne99030
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91423
Quitman77514
Franklin76420
Choctaw70117
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 499411

Reported Deaths: 10149
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson719951403
Mobile36396741
Madison32674469
Tuscaloosa24391423
Montgomery22789523
Shelby22250219
Baldwin19915289
Lee15070161
Calhoun13961296
Morgan13785255
Etowah13413327
Marshall11458215
Houston10121264
Elmore9509190
Limestone9435139
St. Clair9050228
Cullman8993183
Lauderdale8628214
DeKalb8507175
Talladega7643165
Walker6600260
Jackson6551104
Autauga634492
Blount6252128
Colbert6007121
Coffee5261104
Dale4680107
Russell407534
Franklin400779
Covington3996107
Chilton3911104
Escambia379473
Tallapoosa3637143
Clarke344553
Chambers3432111
Dallas3428142
Pike292973
Marion288796
Lawrence285787
Winston258568
Bibb246058
Marengo244657
Geneva240270
Pickens225757
Barbour213851
Hale212569
Fayette202657
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178140
Monroe166739
Randolph165141
Washington157036
Macon147845
Crenshaw146755
Clay146254
Cleburne140141
Lamar133933
Lowndes133151
Wilcox123225
Bullock117736
Conecuh107224
Perry106427
Sumter100832
Coosa90324
Greene88732
Choctaw55723
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