Working moms everywhere are rallying behind Serena Williams.
The tennis star recently revealed that she missed her 10-month-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, take her first steps.
Over the weekend, during a break from competing at Wimbledon, the tennis star tweeted, “She took her first steps…I was in training and missed it. I cried.”
The 36-year-old received thousands of replies from working mothers who could relate to the struggle of missing their children’s milestones.
“I missed a bunch of firsts while I was at work. I hear ya, mama. It’s not easy,” wrote columnist Raakhee Mirchandani. “But our girls see us out there grinding and living our dreams and that’s got to mean something. Good luck in London – my daughter and I are both rooting for you!”
Best-selling author and blogger Jenny Lawson a.k.a. “The Bloggess” shared her wisdom by tweeting, “When my daughter was a baby my daycare provider said they’d never tell me if she hit a milestone when I was at work. ‘It’s not her first anything until her momma sees it.’ Amen.”
ESPN correspondent Alison Bender knows all too well what Williams is going through. The journalist tweeted, “Ah Serena, I’m with you there. I’m in Russia at a World Cup. I watched mine taker her first steps on a video. She’ll be proud of you when she grows up (I have to keep telling myself).”
Even model and social media maven Chrissy Teigen took sent her positive thoughts, writing, “She is practicing so you can see the real ones.”
Thousands of mothers shared their memories of returning to work while their children were young and assured the 23-time Grand Slam champion that having a working mother sets a positive example for children.
“Lost my mom one month ago,” one follower shared. “I never knew if she saw my first steps but I know that her being a working mom made me strong, resilient and showed me how to be independent even with a great Dad to help! It was those lessons that are getting me through these days. Don’t beat yourself up!”
Williams has been candid about managing her return to work with motherhood. Earlier this year, in the HBO documentary “Being Serena,” Williams was told by her coach Patrick Mouratoglou that until she switches from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, she wouldn’t be able to reach her optimal fitness level.
Although postpartum weight-loss is commonly attributed to breastfeeding, Williams says she was unable to drop the extra baby weight, despite sticking to an almost exclusively vegan diet.
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“It was interesting because all these articles, over pop culture, you hear when you breastfeed you lose weight, you’re so thin. That wasn’t happening to me,” Williams said in a recent interview at Wimbledon. “What I’ve learned through the experience: Everybody is different, every person is different, every physical body is different.For my body it didn’t work. No matter how much I worked out, no matter how much I did, it didn’t work for me.”
After six months, Williams took Mouratoglou’s advice and switched to bottle-feeding and dropped 10 pounds within the first week.
“The truth is I miss my body, being able to do other kinds of amazing things. I miss playing tennis,” Williams explained in the documentary. “Mostly, I miss winning. Winning’s always been the way I define myself, and I want it to stay that way for a long time.”
The open and honest discussion helmed by public figures like Williams is an antidote to the silent shame and suffering that so many women face as they try to be the “perfect mom.”
Although Williams has made sacrifices, including missing her daughter’s first steps, the star has the support from her husband, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, and seems poised to capture more Grand Slam titles.
Williams’s quest for glory continues on Tuesday in the Wimbledon quarter finals against Camila Giorgi.