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I nearly died during child delivery – Serena Williams

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Tennis star Serena opens up on the agony she went through during and after the birth of her baby, Olympia, the battle to regain fitness and back to the court

 

Serena–who long ago ascended into the pantheon of stars known by a single name–swap her pink Crocs for sneakers, and grabs a broom and dustpan to sweep pine needles off the hard court,

 

Just three nights earlier, Serena suffered the worst defeat of her 23-year professional career, a 6-1, 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Johanna Konta in the opening round of a U.S. Open tune-up tournament down the road in San Jose. That it was only her fifth tournament since giving birth to her daughter in September – or that in the fourth, Wimbledon, she made it to the finals in one of the most spectacular displays of will, skill and grit in the history of the game–didn’t make the loss hurt any less.

 

Serena has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record. The U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 27 in New York City, is her last chance to even the score this year. And with age and the demands of parenthood looming over her singular career, Serena knows every chance matters. So, time to work.

 

She pounds shots from every angle, moving side to side, sending one ball screaming crosscourt at a cone target near the baseline. After a few hundred swings, her fitness guru, a white-haired sexagenarian named Mackie Shilstone, suggests she take a 30-second break. She insists on 20. He offers her water. She refuses

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