Starting a family can be scary. While I have yet to face the challenges of becoming a mother, that doesn’t mean that I’m unaware of what women experience when we decide to have children. The stress that child birth can cause on our bodies and personal lives is almost a given. But as a law school student who has worked countless hours to ensure the fruitfulness of my professional career, the physical and relationship changes don’t keep me up at night. What does worry me is the thought of losing my career and credibility as a professional because I choose to be a mother. Gratefully, I am not the only woman who has ever had this concern and the world of sports has given me some wonderful examples of how to be successful as a mother and a career woman. Enter Serena Williams. Less than a year after giving birth via cesarean section to her first child, Olympia Ohanian Jr., Serena Williams made her return to tennis and has done so in rather miraculous form; making it all the way to the finals of Wimbledon and climbing from No. 453 in the rankings to No. 26. If you’re like me and you plan on having a baby and successful career, take some notes from Serena Williams:
Pace Yourself & Don’t be Afraid of a Setback
Before Baby Olympia, Serena Williams was ranked No. 1 in the world and showed no signs of slowing down. But that all changed with pregnancy. Along with baby came a significant drop in rankings, an unexpected cesarean section and some significant complications that made a return to tennis the last thing on her to-do list. Rather than complain or take the painful setbacks as signs to retire, Serena chose to press on at her own healthy pace. When she was ready, she played a select number of tournaments and pulled out of them when her body told her she needed more rest. Her perseverance, patience and dedication to her craft is paying off. She took home a second place trophy at Wimbledon and is already one of the favorites for this year’s U.S. Open. So when baby comes, take a page out of Serena’s book: take your time coming back to work and don’t get discouraged if your comeback isn’t quite what you imagined. There’s still glory for you to have.
When I saw Serena make her 2018 French Open appearance in a skin-tight one-piece, I had to “Google” if she actually gave birth just six months prior to the tournament. Along with showing off her fashion sense, Serena’s outfit was proof of her dedication and work ethic in the gym. Any mother can tell you that the post-baby body isn’t always ideal or what they want it to be. Serena showed that with hard work and a passion for what you do, you can get back in the game. While playing in a catsuit in the French Open might not be in your postnatal future, you can become the professional you once were and can maintain a career as long as you put in the effort. Believe in yourself and trust your process, you can achieve far more than you think.
Don’t Dull Your Energy
Serena Williams has always made a statements. From her style of play, to her hair, to her socio-political stances, to her fashion and relationship choices; Serena has never been shy. Thankfully, she hasn’t let motherhood stop her shine. Since having baby Olympia, Serena has continued to play her signature powerful style of tennis, rock fashion-forward hairstyles and outfits and speak out about issues that are important to her. Serena didn’t try to be anything less than what she was; she did not dull her energy. Once you have your baby, neither should you. Continue to be confident, bold, or hungry for success. Be like Serena and continue to “get after it,” make waves and show just what a tough mother you are.
It might sound a little oxymoronic to say “continue to be yourself” in one breath and then “embrace the new you” in the next, but that’s just what Serena has done. And you should try to do the same. Since giving birth, Serena has been open about sharing the joys and stresses of being a mother with a career. She travels to tournaments with Olympia and breast pump in tow and has re-designed her brand to include her new role as a mother. When it’s time for you to balance motherhood and career, take notes from Serena and make adjustments so that worklife fits the new title of “Mommy.”
When it’s time for you to become a mother or if you’re a new mom concerned about returning to work, don’t fret. You can and will be able to balance it all. For more advice on balancing your career and following your purpose sign-up for our newsletter by clicking here.