After a smooth and uncomplicated pregnancy, Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed their daughter Alexis Olympia on September 1, 2017. In “Being Serena,” a documentary series airing on HBO, viewers are given an intimate inside-look into her childbirth experience, among other pivotal life moments.
During the tennis superstar’s contractions, her heart rate dropped dangerously low and doctors had to perform an emergency cesarean section. The surgery went well and baby Alexis was born — but a six-day nightmare unexpectedly began.
Serena, who was recovering in the maternity ward, started coughing and experiencing severe pain. Then, her C-section stitches tore and it felt like she couldn’t breathe.
All routine tests came back negative, but Serena demanded doctors run a CAT scan with dye; she had a gut feeling she was having a pulmonary embolism. “I’ve had this before, I know my body,” she told them. During pulmonary embolism, arteries in the lungs are blocked by a blood clot.
As it turned out, Serena’s instincts were spot-on and she was experiencing pulmonary embolism that left her battling for her life. Alexis was terrified she would die.
It’s been six months since the harrowing birth, and while Serena is on the mend her terrifying experience has inspired her to speak publicly about affordable health care for mothers everywhere, regardless of race or background.
Watch the moment Serena met her beautiful daughter, as captured on camera by her husband.
Due to restrictions, this video cannot
be viewed in your region.