Former 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova says Serena Williams has paved a way for athletes to keep playing sports professionally after giving birth. Williams, 41, became a mother for the first time in 2017 September, when she and her husband welcomed a baby girl Olympia.
After giving birth, Williams returned to professional tennis and made four Grand Slam finals before retiring at this past US Open. “For women it was either or, but now Serena proved you can have both. There are plenty of other mothers on the tour who have done really well.
The biggest reason we didn’t see it – there are a couple – the care wasn’t there, the money wasn’t there, and also women just chose to have babies and then they didn’t come back. But now I think Serena kind of paved the way for motherhood and to still be an athlete.
I think you will see more and more women playing well into their 30s, maybe into their 40s,” Navratilova told CNN en Español’s Elizabeth Pérez.
Navratilova on Williams enjoying a long careers
Back in Navratilova’s day, it wasn’t really common to see an athlete competing at a high level beyond the age of 35.
Now, it is more common across all sports to see star athletes competing while well in their thirties. In tennis, Williams was just a few weeks removed from her 41st birthday when she retired. Also, Roger Federer officially stepped away from the game at 41 .
“With the money that’s in tennis, people can take better care of themselves. Most of all, with the knowledge that we have about how to take care of our bodies much better – that will prolong players’ careers.
Maybe [players will] not play as much every year but play longer and better quality as well. The care is there, the mental health, all of that is being addressed now much better than it was in my day,” Navratilova added.