Venus Williams beat Johanna Konta, and Garbine Muguruza beat Magdalena Rybarikova in their respective semifinal matches at Wimbledon.

WIMBLEDON, England — While the world’s elite tennis stars have spent the past 10 days playing at Wimbledon, its most famous women’s player has been absent with a doctor’s note worthy excuse.

Serena Williams, 35, is into the final weeks of her first pregnancy. The actual due date hasn’t been released, but it has been reported that Williams and fiancè, Alexis Ohanian, should be parents towards the end of the summer. As is normal for pregnant women close to giving birth, Williams is grounded back home in Florida.

On Wednesday evening, Williams took time to speak with USA TODAY Sports by phone, and breezily chatted about how she’s getting along in the latter stage of her pregnancy, how she’s preparing for the new arrival, and how she’s dealing with not being at Wimbledon this year.

Williams admittedly is someone who finds sitting still difficult — she traveled, even to the French Open last month, before settling in to await the new arrival. So it comes as no surprise she isn’t just hanging around the house with her feet up. She’s posted videos of herself out on the court doing easy drills. And she’s also fulfilling some responsibilities to her contractual sponsors.

That said, the 23-time Grand Slam champion acknowledges that rest and relaxation has become a premium concern as she prepares for the demands of pending motherhood.


“You really need to sleep well when you are pregnant because you’re building a whole new human inside of you,” said Williams, who as a celebrity spokesperson for Tempur-Pedic mattresses endorses the message “Sleep Is Power.”

“I’m definitely sleeping a lot more than I usually do. It’s different because when I’m playing I’m usually traveling. When I’m at home I sleep well. I don’t get that quality sleep I need when I’m on the road. Actually it’s been easy to be at home and get things done and do some work from home.”

A seven-time Wimbledon champion, Williams is missing out on playing here for only the third time in her career since she first graced these grass courts in 1998.

“I’m not really missing not being there,” she said, with a bit of a chuckle. “Under any other circumstance I would be devastated, but this is good. When Wimbledon first started I definitely felt a void, but it quickly went away and I was like, ‘OK, this isn’t bad.’ And you know, I was able to watch. I just feel like it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I think it’s because of the pregnancy. If it was any other injury I would be just inconsolable.”

Williams’ current plan is to be back in action at the beginning of next year, and she’s already offered support to Victoria Azarenka’s request that the WTA implement on-site nurseries at all tournaments.

“Absolutely, for sure, especially being female athletes, (we) definitely, more so, need nurseries on the road.”

As is the case with any new mom, Williams isn’t quite sure what to expect when her new identity as mom takes hold. She joked, “I’m trying to find a Baby 101 class,” but what she has done is what many women do. She’s turned to her own mom, Oracene, to impart mommy wisdom her way.

“She’s been really teaching me a lot in general,” she said of Oracene, who raised five daughters. “She’s teaching me about being patient because this whole process takes a ton of patience, so that’s really different for me. I’m not the most patient person on the planet. She’s been really helping me through every single step, and that’s been so good.”

Another person she’s naturally been relying on throughout her pregnancy is sister, Venus. She’s been watching Venus’ progression through the Wimbledon draw from home. Thursday Venus reached the women’s final with a straight set victory over Johanna Konta. 

“I”m so proud of her and she’s been doing so good,” said Serena, of Venus’ Wimbledon performance. “It’s been great to watch her from a distance and be able to continue supporting her.”

At the French Open, Venus seemed confused as to what her aunty role would be once the little one arrives. From what Serena indicates, she’s anticipating Venus to be very hands-on with the baby.

“She wants to get a family car, which is interesting,” Serena said. “She has a lot of plans. We’ll see how that goes, but I’m definitely down for whatever. She’s going to be really great. She is so excited — it’s so crazy how excited she is. It’s so funny. I look forward to the baby going over and having a sleepover at her house. She’s like should I get a crib? What do I need to get? Do I need a bassinet? Do I need this? And I’m like, ‘I don’t really know.’”

While many pregnant women reach a point when they’re ready for the pregnancy part of the equation to end and get on with parenthood, Serena closed the conversation by saying she’s still content to be waiting a little while longer.

“Baby is not old enough yet,” she said. “I’m not ready — I haven’t done the nursery yet.”


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