WASHINGTON – Look out, women's tennis. Serena Williams isn't quite back on tour, but she says she wants more Grand Slam titles and may be an even better player after becoming a mother.
In an interview with Vogue magazine published Wednesday, Williams also recounts the harrowing medical ordeal she went through after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on September 1.
Williams, 36, played an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi in late December but pulled out of this month's Australian Open, saying she was “super close” but not yet playing at the level needed to compete.
She is now eyeing a return to the women's tour at the Indian Wells tournament in March.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, told Vogue she is determined to win more major titles and surpass the record of 24 Slams held by Australia's Margaret Court.
“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams,” she said. “I'm well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It's not a secret that I have my sights on 25,” said the 36-year-old Williams.
Williams, who married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at a star-studded wedding in New Orleans in November, said being a mother may boost her quest.
“Actually, I think having a baby might help,” she said. “When I'm too anxious, I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born. Knowing I've got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don't have to play another match,” she said. “I don't need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don't need them,” she said. “That's a different feeling for me.”
Williams told Vogue she had an emergency cesarean section after the baby's heart rate fell dangerously low during contractions.
The surgery went well “and then everything went bad,” she said.
Williams, who has a history of blood clots, suffered from shortness of breath the day after the birth and told her doctors she needed a CT scan. Several small blood clots were found in her lungs, and Williams was put on an anticoagulant.
“I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!” she joked.
More complications followed as intense coughing caused her C-section wound to open and a hematoma was found in her abdomen. After returning home, Williams said she was unable to get out of bed for six weeks.
In the interview, Williams also discussed her rivalry with her older sister, Venus.
“I know that her career might have been different if she had had my health,” Serena said. I know how hard she works,” she said. “I hate playing her because she gets this look on her face where she just looks sad if she's losing. Solemn. It breaks my heart.
“So when I play her now, I absolutely don't look at her, because if she gets that look, then I'll start feeling bad, and the next thing you know I'll be losing.
“I think that's when the turning point came in our rivalry, when I stopped looking at her,” she said.