The media + women athletes + pregnancy = a strange brew of speculation, misogyny, and poor source material.

serenablog_t.jpgPhoto: The Odyssey Online


CNN reports on Serena Williams’ recently announced pregnancy.

I wonder if anyone else found it odd that the person they decide to interview - to speculate on whether she can return to the the world stage - was, wait for it, Kim Cljister’s male coach, Wim Fissette.  

Pray tell Wim, what is your personal experience with pregnancy?

And just curious, do you view pregnancy as one of those - if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all kind of things?

Has knowing one pregnant athlete imbued you with the knowledge of how Serena’s pregnancy will play out?

About her ability? Her drive? Her uniqueness - not just as the article states, “one of the greatest athletes of her generation,” but The Greatest Of All Time?

Wim. The women want to know… do you get us?!

So here’s the deal: it’s true, pregnancy changes everything. But it’s also true, that it is a natural stage in a woman’s life. And that being the world’s greatest athlete and having a baby are not mutually exclusive. Serena can, and very likely will, conquer new grand slams post baby.


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What we see in the world of running, also a very high impact, intensely physical sport, is that there are many, MANY examples of women rising back to the world class level post-pregnancy.

Kara Goucher was 6.5 months postpartum when she ran the Boston Marathon and finished 5th in 2:24, 9 months postpartum when she made the USA Worlds Team in the 10K (Daegu, South Korea), and 16 months postpartum when she made the Olympic Team in 2012.

serenablog_kara3.jpgPhoto: Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Paula Radcliffe won the NYC Marathon in 2007, 9 months postpartum.


Stephanie Bruce just PR’d in the 10,000m 1.5 years postpartum running 31:59.


Bottom line: every woman is different. Every pregnancy is different. What works for one woman, won’t work for another. And while there are no specific barriers in returning, there are risks (and perhaps, CNN, you might consider talking to a doctor, vs. a male coach), including a loosening of the joints due to hormonal changes that can present an increased risk for stress fractures if the return to fitness is too fast.

Serena Williams will be in great company on her road back to whatever level of tennis she chooses. Rather than speculating on those steps and choices, or whether women are strong enough to do both, the media can do better in terms of highlighting the many success stories of how elite women athletes have blended their athletic and parenting paths in very healthy, prosperous ways.


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April 21, 2017 — Allyson Ely

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