Serena Williams is on a mission. Not only is she determined to hold the all-time record for Grand Slam wins, but now she has another purpose: Demonstrating to working moms that they can still achieve their career goals.
Only, like millions of other women, Williams discovered that balancing her professional ambitions and motherhood can mean making some sacrifices—such as making the difficult call to stop breastfeeding on the advice of her tennis coach.
"It's all about getting the results that we want, and the results we want is that you play and you win," Patrick Mouratoglou tells Williams during an episode of HBO's documentary Being Serena. "So the question is how to do that. The first thing is: stop breastfeeding. Because the problem is you're too heavy. You are stocking a lot of fat. To practice feeling super heavy, the effort is a joke. It's too difficult."
As harsh as that sounds to those of us who aren't top-ranked tennis stars, Williams saw the truth in the statement—although accepting it was still emotionally challenging. "I don't want you to think that I haven't been doing the work, because I have. I work out all day, every day," she says, later adding, "I have been doing absolutely the right thing every day—with the exception of probably the main thing, which is breastfeeding."
Now set to take the grassy court at Wimbledon, Williams explained to the media this week that she heeded the advice to stop breastfeeding and almost immediately dropped 10 lbs.
Although research has shown that breastfeeding moms lose more weight in the first year postpartum than new moms who don't breastfeed, that isn't true for every mom. That's because while breastfeeding does burn up to 700 calories per day for moms feeding older, bigger babies, it also has a way of ramping up the women's appetites and decreasing their energy.
In other words: Williams wasn't alone in struggling to lose weight while breastfeeding.
As she so perfectly put it when talking to the media this week, "What I've learned through the experience: Every body is different, every person is different."
For her, this wasn't the outcome she necessarily hoped for. But it did seem to be the best compromise as she has her sights set on winning another Grand Slam. Besides, there's no denying that 10-month-old Olympia is benefitting in another way: She is learning from her mom that anything is possible.
"Once upon a time, there was a girl from Compton," Williams tells her daughter during a recent court-side video. "And she had a dream to play at Wimbledon. And her dream came true… Yes, Olympia, your dreams can come true, too."
Turning those dreams into realities may mean making tough choices. But when making those hard calls, you're gaining clarity on what matters and what you aren't willing to compromise—whether you're Williams or any other mama.