Serena Williams Opens Up About Motherhood, Marriage and Her Tennis Comeback

The trailblazing tennis icon and new mom discusses her five-part documentary series, Being Serena, and her hopes for her young daughter, Olympia.

HBO: Tell us a little about Being Serena.

Serena Williams: Being Serena is a five-part docu-series that follows the ups and downs of some of the most pivotal moments of my life. It documents my pregnancy, the extremely difficult time I had in the delivery room and all of the emotions that came with it. It also covers my wedding, which was so exciting and fun. It was honestly the best day of my life. And then of course, it shows my comeback, because I’m coming back, I’m playing tennis, I’m back on the court, and it’s so invigorating.

HBO: What are you most excited and nervous about with this docu-series?

Serena Williams: I’m excited about seeing — and I still get tears when I watch it — the birth of my daughter. But there are some moments in there that I’m not excited for people to see, but that’s what this docu-series is all about. The camera follows you and you’ve got to be your true self. You have to allow yourself to just be. There are going to be moments that aren’t fun, but everyone has not fun moments in their lives.

HBO: Has having a daughter affected your views about your career?

Serena Williams: I look at things differently, mostly because I want Olympia to have the same opportunities men have. I always think about what I can do to make sure that she’s getting all the opportunities that any boy would get. That’s changed my views on the world, on opportunity, and not having Olympia think in a box.

HBO: Who are your female heroes?

Serena Williams: Definitely my mom, especially after having Olympia. Honestly, anyone out there that’s a mom, because it’s not easy. I think of these women that have multiple kids... my mom had five kids and I don’t know how she did it. I have one and I’m like, “This is hard!”

HBO: As a trailblazer yourself, what advice do you have for other trailblazers?

Serena Williams: Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Sometimes I stand up for things from which I might not benefit from, but it’s for the next generation, and the one after that. For me, that is really being a trailblazer.

HBO: Can you talk about some of the obstacles that you’ve had to face?

Serena Williams: I’ve faced countless obstacles in my career and life. Tons of sexism, in terms of not being treated the same because I’m not a man. Racism, especially in my sport. Ultimately, I am glad to have gone through everything I have because it made me who I am. I don’t want to be anyone different. It helped me become this tough person who can now influence change and help other people, including my own daughter.

I was told so many times that I wasn’t going to be a good tennis player but look at me now. Sometimes, when people tell me “no,” I almost like it because it gets me fired up and ready to say, “Yes, I can do this.”

Watch Being Serena on HBO GO, HBO NOW and HBO On Demand.