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Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player of all time. Full stop. She has proven her worth again and again, and holds 23 Grand Slam titles. In a recent Vogue spread, she announced her drive for 25. She is not done, not by a long shot. I would also like to say, I’m embarrased that The Turf has never written about her. We need a tennis writer. Is that you? Come write with us!

Serena Williams poses with her daughter Alexis OlympiaVogue/Mario Testino

Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia in a recent spread for Vogue Magazine

If you haven’t read the harrowing tale of Serena Williams’ medical issues after she gave birth to her daughter, Olympia, do so. After undergoing an emergency cesarean section because Olympia’s heart rate crashed, there appeared to be no more scares for the family.

The next day, everything changed.

The Vogue story then went on to detail just how scary the situation became.

The next day, while recovering in the hospital, Serena suddenly felt short of breath. Because of her history of blood clots, and because she was off her daily anticoagulant regimen due to the recent surgery, she immediately assumed she was having another pulmonary embolism. (Serena lives in fear of blood clots.) She walked out of the hospital room so her mother wouldn’t worry and told the nearest nurse, between gasps, that she needed a CT scan with contrast and IV heparin (a blood thinner) right away. The nurse thought her pain medicine might be making her confused. But Serena insisted, and soon enough a doctor was performing an ultrasound of her legs. “I was like, a Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,” she remembers telling the team. The ultrasound revealed nothing, so they sent her for the CT, and sure enough, several small blood clots had settled in her lungs. Minutes later she was on the drip. “I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!”

But this was just the first chapter of a six-day drama. Her fresh C-section wound popped open from the intense coughing spells caused by the pulmonary embolism, and when she returned to surgery, they found that a large hematoma had flooded her abdomen, the result of a medical catch-22 in which the potentially lifesaving blood thinner caused hemorrhaging at the site of her C-section. She returned yet again to the OR to have a filter inserted into a major vein, in order to prevent more clots from dislodging and traveling into her lungs. Serena came home a week later only to find that the night nurse had fallen through, and she spent the first six weeks of motherhood unable to get out of bed.

Determined to return

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Serena Williams of the United States returns a shot to Shuai Zhang of China during the Tie Break Tens at Madison Square Garden on March 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)Getty Images

I’m so glad to hear that Serena Williams came through all of this and is back on her feet. She’s a sports icon that I’ve always admired. Her drive, her detemination, her unparalleled talent, her energy, her focus, her unrivaled ability to speak to the soul of a significant amount of people:

However I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but the WTA got really good in Serena Williams’ absence. Like, really good. Caroline Wozniacki’s win at the Australian Open proved her star power. Elina Svitolina, Angelique Kerber, and let’s not forget Simona Halep and what she showed in the Australian Open given the ankle injury she was fighting through, and having trouble breathing. How’s about Petra Kvitova, coming back from hand surgery but with two wins under her belt.

Has the competition surpassed Serena Williams?

Serena Williams has proven that she can top anybody, but even the best get rusty. A year away from the sport, during what might be the strongest progression year for all of women’s tennis. Am I wrong to be worried that Serena Williams isn’t ready for what she’s about to walk back into?

I don’t doubt that if Serena Williams wants it, she’ll be back on top. But to expect her to walk back and instantly be the best, I think is foolish. The women at the top right now are pushing tennis to completely new heights. It’s insanely exciting to watch. The game is at a completely different level than when Serena last played. If she wants 2 more Grand Slams? She’ll have to rise to the occasion.

Getty Images

Caroline Wozniacki is primed to take the top seed in the WTA

Shifting priorities

Serena Williams wouldn’t be the first parent to find a shift in priority with a new child. Even she admitted, “To be honest, there’s something really attractive about the idea of moving to San Francisco and just being a mom…” No one would blame her, she’s proven herself to be the greatest of all time. Do I think she will? Or do I think she’ll return to form and prove to the world just how dominant she is?

I’ll let her answer in her own words:

”…But not yet. Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams. I’m well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It’s not a secret that I have my sights on 25.”

Since the current record is held by Australian Margaret Court, (who most recently has been speaking out against LGBTQI tennis players and children), you better believe I’m betting on Serena to take that record for herself. It won’t be easy. The competition is stiff and the road is grueling. But as they say, if ever you’ve conquered a stroller, you can conquer anything.

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