Giving birth to her first child almost cost Serena Williams her life, the 23-time Grand Slam champion revealed.
Williams became a mother to daughter Alexis Olympia on Sept. 1 last year via emergency C-section.
It was supposed to be a cherished and enjoyable moment but it was one of fear for the 36-year-old American star, who did not defend her Australian Open title after sitting out the opening Slam of 2018.
"I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia," Williams – who made her competitive return in the Fed Cup but lost a dead rubber alongside sister Venus – wrote in her column for CNN. "Yet I consider myself fortunate.
"While I had a pretty easy pregnancy, my daughter was born by emergency C-section after her heart rate dropped dramatically during contractions. The surgery went smoothly. Before I knew it, Olympia was in my arms. It was the most amazing feeling I've ever experienced in my life. But what followed just 24 hours after giving birth were six days of uncertainty.
Help save lives by calling on leaders to prioritize quality, affordable health care for mothers and newborns. Sign @UNICEF’s petition TODAY! https://t.co/iP0wJPrj0l #EveryChildALIVE https://t.co/56juwdrb3E— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) February 20, 2018
"It began with a pulmonary embolism, which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot. Because of my medical history with this problem, I live in fear of this situation. So, when I fell short of breath, I didn't wait a second to alert the nurses.
"This sparked a slew of health complications that I am lucky to have survived. First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism. I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen.
"And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from traveling to my lungs. When I finally made it home to my family, I had to spend the first six weeks of motherhood in bed."