Serena Williams: 'I almost died after giving birth to my daughter'

  • Serena Williams reveals that she almost died giving birth to her daughter, Olympia.
  • In a first-person account for CNN, Williams detailed the pulmonary embolism she suffered and the other complications that followed after her emergency C-section.
  • Williams told her story in an effort to raise awareness for the high rates of childbirth-related deaths among black women and the poor.


In a first-person account for CNN, Serena Williams reveals that she almost died following the birth of her daughter in September.

"I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia," Williams wrote.

Williams suffered a pulmonary embolism, the blockage of an artery in the lungs, after having an emergency C-section. Williams has a history of blood cot issues and knew to immediately seek medical help when her breathing became difficult, however, the embolism led to other complications.

During an interview with Vogue in January, Williams revealed that she had to convince the doctors and nurses to look for blood clots in her lungs.

"She walked out of the hospital room so her mother wouldn’t worry and told the nearest nurse, between gasps, that she needed a CT scan with contrast and IV heparin (a blood thinner) right away. The nurse thought her pain medicine might be making her confused. But Serena insisted, and soon enough a doctor was performing an ultrasound of her legs. 'I was like, a Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,' she remembers telling the team. The ultrasound revealed nothing, so they sent her for the CT, and sure enough, several small blood clots had settled in her lungs. Minutes later she was on the drip. 'I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!'"

The blood cot led to "intense coughing," which in turn caused Williams' C-section wound to pop open. When she returned to surgery, doctors discovered a large hematoma (clotted blood) in her abdomen. This led to another procedure to keep any additional clots from traveling to the lungs.

Williams says she was confined to a bed for six weeks after the birth of her daughter.

18 PHOTOS
Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
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Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
My baby is 6 months today. So yummy.
She wanted to dress 80's
Welcome home momma
She's like "Mommmmmmmmmmm my friends are looking" #freshfaces
Just how I look at her
When I first saw this @voguemagazine cover it brought tears to my eyes. All Vogue covers are special but to share this one with my beautiful daughter @olympiaohanian also the youngest Vogue cover star makes it moment I will never forget. The article is a must read. Link in bio
Mommy and me
My mommy loves Snapchat
Mama never sleeps. When she does, I go on adventures with daddy. "Come on!"
My final top 10 moment of 2017. Of course includes @olympiaohanian they say save the best for last. I could not choose so I just choose 10 random videos. They all were so cute to me 🤷🏾‍♀️🤷🏾‍♀️
There are so many reasons to quit, but even more to keep playing. Even if you don’t go pro, sports can teach you so much. So keep playing. Link in bio. #sistersinsweat #gatoradepartner @gatorade
Meet Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. You have to check out link in bio for her amazing journey. Also check out my IG stories 😍😍❤️❤️
We clearly don't take enough family portraits. This one's from the honeymoon. @olympiaohanian was not ready for the snap... 😒 2017 was a year to remember for a lot of reasons (good as well as bad) so that they may all serve as motivation, inspiration, and a compass for what we know to be right. These two women are my everything. And the duty I have to them as a husband and a father is the greatest responsibility I'll have in my life; I'm honored to bear it. And I know I'll always find new ways to keep making you, laugh, @serenawilliams. 2018 is going to be a phenomenal year. And may there be many, many more to come. Wherever you are in the world tonight, I hope you're with people you love.
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The 23-time Grand Slam champion wrote about her experience to help bring awareness to the higher rate of childbirth-related deaths among black women and people in poor countries.

Williams wrote that she considers herself "fortunate" and "grateful," noting she had access to good doctors and nurses, and was in a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment. She also knows many others aren't as well-off.

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women in the United States are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes," Williams wrote. "But this is not just a challenge in the United States. Around the world, thousands of women struggle to give birth in the poorest countries. When they have complications like mine, there are often no drugs, health facilities or doctors to save them."

Williams called on people to demand governments, businesses and health care providers do more to help and for people to donate to organizations such as UNICEF.

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Serena Williams returns to the court
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Serena Williams returns to the court
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a backhand during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a forehand during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States looks on during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States serves against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a forehand against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States smiles during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States looks dejected during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Serena Williams of United States plays a backhand during her Ladies Final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a forehand against Serena Williams of United States during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a forehand against Serena Williams of United States during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia smiles during her Ladies Final match against Serena Williams of United States on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 30: Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia plays a forehand against Serena Williams of United States during Ladies Final match on day three of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at International Tennis Centre Zayed Sports City on December 30, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
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