Serena Williams health: Blood clots ‘could have killed me’ – tennis pro tells all

Serena Williams to retire from tennis 'in next few weeks'

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The sportswoman penned: “Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.” The American added: “I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me… I started a family. I want to grow that family.”

Fondly remembering her pregnancy, the Grand Slam winner admitted in the September issue of Vogue, 2022, that “things got super complicated on the other side”.

“I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final,” Serena revealed.

In an earlier feature published in ELLE, Serena opened up about her life-threatening experience.

“With each [contraction], my baby’s heart rate plummeted. I was scared… Every time the baby’s heart rate dropped, the nurses would come in and tell me to turn onto my side.


“The baby’s heart rate would go back up and everything seemed fine. I’d have another contraction, and baby’s heart rate would drop again, but I’d turn over and the rate would go back up.”

Told she would need a C-section, Serena spent the night in hospital with her newborn.

“When I woke up, she was nestled in my arms. The rest of my body was paralysed…

“So much of what happened after that is still a blur. I may have passed out a few times.”

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Serena learned, later on, that she had blood clots in her lungs – “lots that, had they not been caught in time, could have killed me”.

Recalling the “excruciating pain” she felt, and the inability to move “at all”, Serena “began to cough” during the ordeal.

“The nurses warned me that coughing might burst my stitches, but I couldn’t help it,” she recalled.

“The coughs became racking, full-body ordeals. Every time I coughed, sharp pains shot through my wound.”

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Serena remembered she “couldn’t breathe… [she] couldn’t get enough air”, her stitches from the C-section burst and there was a clot in one of her arteries.

“The doctors would also discover a hematoma, a collection of blood outside the blood vessels, in my abdomen,” she said.

“Then even more clots that had to be kept from traveling to my lungs. That’s what the medical report says, anyway.”

A pulmonary embolism

The NHS explained: “A pulmonary embolism often happens when part of the blood clot dislodges itself from your leg and travels up to your lungs, causing a blockage.”

The “life-threatening” condition is more likely to occur if you sit for long periods of time without moving.

Other risk factors include drinking alcohol, coffee, and caffeinated drinks, and/or sleeping pills.

To help minimise the risk of a blood clot, the health body advises to “take regular breaks from sitting”.

Call 999 or visit A&E if you have difficulty breathing, your heart is beating very fast, and you feel like you’re going to pass out.

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