Serena Williams has spent her career defying the odds, winning 23 Grand Slam singles titles and becoming the oldest world No 1 at age 35.
But now she will face perhaps the ultimate challenge – making a comeback after motherhood.
Williams, who announced her engagement to Reddit social media site co-founder Alexis Ohanian last December, revealed Wednesday that she is having a baby, in a Snapchat photo with the caption “20 weeks.”
If her timing was precise, it would mean Williams won the Australian Open, her 23rd Grand Slam crown to set an Open Era record, without dropping a set on January – while eight weeks pregnant.
It would also mean she could give birth during the US Open, which begins on August 28.
Kelly Bush Novak, Williams’ publicist, told AFP only that Serena “is expecting a baby this fall” and “looks forward to returning in 2018.”
After the flurry of well-wishes, a question quickly came to the fore: can Williams, who turns 36 in September, return from having her first child and overtake Australia’s Margaret Court for the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles crowns?
Moreover – would she even want to?
“This is another one of those ultimate challenges for Serena Williams, say around the age of 37, to try and tie Margaret Court,” said Pam Shriver, a 1980s US tennis star-turned-commentator for ESPN.
“There’s no reason she can’t do it. What she has done in her 30s is more than any other tennis player.”
Court was 29 when she gave birth to son Daniel in 1972 and the next year captured her final three Grand Slam titles, sweeping the Australian, French and US Open crowns.