Serena Williams has opened up about her near-death experience after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia Alexis Ohanian.
In a heartfelt open letter, the tennis star revealed that her first child, who she gave birth to last September, was born "by emergency C-section after her heart rate dropped dramatically during contractions."
Following Olympia's birth, Williams says she faced "six days of uncertainty."
“It began with a pulmonary embolism, which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot. Because of my medical history with this problem, I live in fear of this situation. So, when I fell short of breath, I didn’t wait a second to alert the nurses,” she wrote to CNN.
“First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result.”
Williams said she was forced to “spend the first six weeks of motherhood in bed” as the complications spread.
“I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen. And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from travelling to my lungs."
“I am so grateful I had access to such an incredible medical team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment. They knew exactly how to handle this complicated turn of events. If it weren’t for their professional care, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Williams, who is an ambassador for UNICEF, went on to say that "black women in the United States are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes."
She finished her letter with a strong message: "Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth."