Just 10 months after the birth of her daughter, Serena Williams has choked back tears in a touching runner-up speech after the Wimbledon final.
Angelique Kerber tore up the script on Sunday morning to land her maiden Wimbledon crown and deny Serena a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title.
Williams had been bidding to match Margaret Court’s all-time majors mark in her just her fourth tournament – and 15th match – back after more than a year out of the game to have daughter Alexis Olympia.
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And the veteran was supremely gracious in defeat, choking back tears recalling her journey and congratulating the new champion.
“It was such an amazing tournament for me. I was really happy to get this far,” Williams said.
“It’s obviously disappointing but I can’t be disappointed; I have so much to look forward to. I’m only just getting started.
“I look forward to continue to be out here and do what I do best.”
The 36-year-old also fell one win short of becoming the first mother to win Wimbledon since Court’s fellow Australian great Evonne Goolagong Cawley did in 1980.
“For all the mums out there I was playing for you today,” Williams said.
“I tried but Angelique played really well. She played out of her mind.
“She’s an incredible person and a really good friend, so I’m really happy for her. It’s also her first so I know she’ll enjoy it.
“Congrats again. It’s amazing.”
A little over 10 months ago, on September 1, 2017, Serena gave birth to her daughter. It was a joyous moment for the 36-year-old and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
“That was an amazing feeling,” Serena told Vogue earlier this year. “And then everything went bad.”
“Bad” included the recurrence of blood clots in her lungs just a day after the C-section birth. That caused a coughing fit that reopened stitches and required immediate surgery.
When the blood clots were discovered, there was another surgery, this one an emergency. This was a significant scare.
For a week, Serena was in the hospital, and for weeks and months after struggled with the dual challenges of being a new mother and a recovery from a serious health challenge.
Her husband said she could barely walk last Autumn.
So even in defeat, Williams believes her run to the final was a win for all working mothers.
“I’d just like to tell all the mums, like, I had such a long struggle to come back, and it was really difficult. Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it,” she said.
“I’m just that person, that vessel, that’s saying, ‘You can be whatever you want to be’
“If you want to go back to work, and to me after becoming a mum, I feel like there’s no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job.
“But to those that do want to go back, you can do it, you can really do it.”