Serena Williams says she feared for her life following the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia.
The 36-year-old tennis pro welcomed her and her husband, Alexis Ohanian's, first child together on Sept. 1. What was supposed to be a joyous occasion turned into a near-death experience when her little girl was born by emergency C-section after her heart rate dropped dramatically during contractions. In a new essay, shared on CNNon Tuesday, Williams opens up about the "six days of uncertainty" after giving birth.
"I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia," Williams begins her emotional post. "Yet I consider myself fortunate."
The athlete continues by describing how it all began with a pulmonary embolism, "which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot," that sparked a slew of health complications.
"I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen," she describes. "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."
Thanking the medical team for their service, Williams explains how many women in the U.S. and around the world suffer from complications during childbirth.
"Around the world, thousands of women struggle to give birth in the poorest countries. When they have complications like mine, there are often no drugs, health facilities or doctors to save them," Williams expresses. "If they don't want to give birth at home, they have to travel great distances at the height of pregnancy. Before they even bring a new life into this world, the cards are already stacked against them."
She also recalled one woman's story, Mary James in Malawai, shared by UNICEF, who gave birth but lost her child the day after "because there weren't enough doctors or nurses to save him." She also urges people to take action to prevent these unfortunate incidents from happening.
"You can demand governments, businesses and health care providers do more to save these precious lives," Williams passionately writes. "You can donate to UNICEF and other organizations around the world working to make a difference for mothers and babies in need. In doing so, you become part of this narrative -- making sure that one day, who you are or where you are from does not decide whether your baby gets to live or to die."
This isn't the first time that Williams has opened up about her difficult journey after giving birth. She last opened up about her experience in the February issue of Vogue.
Watch below to hear more of her story.
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