Serena Williams took to Twitter to explain her ‘funk’ following her withdrawal from the Rogers Cup and last week’s quick defeat in her opening match of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
Never has Serena Williams been more impressive than in acknowledging her vulnerability.
By admitting she, too, has doubts and insecurities, as she did Monday night with a heartfelt post on social media about feeling as if she wasn’t measuring up as a mom, Williams makes it easier for the rest of us to acknowledge our worries and fears.
After all, if one of the greatest athletes of all time can struggle, then it stands to reason us mere mortals will, too.
“I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week – it’s OK – I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!” Williams said in a note she posted on both Instagram and Twitter.
Williams has been refreshingly frank since the birth of daughter Olympia, who is now 11 months old. She’s gone into great detail about the complications following Olympia’s birth that nearly killed her, and penned an op-ed for CNN on maternal death rates, particularly among African-American women.
A USA TODAY investigation published last month found that more than 50,000 women are severely injured giving birth, and about 700 die.
Williams has spoken about her struggles to get back in shape while breastfeeding, which runs contrary to what women have been led to believe. She even included a discussion with coach Patrick Mouratoglou about it in her HBO documentary, Being Serena.
“All these articles, over pop culture, you hear when you breastfeed you lose weight, you’re so thin,” Williams said at Wimbledon. “That wasn’t happening to me.
“I wanted to say that so women out there know that’s not true,” she added. “Everyone takes things different. I think it’s important for us to share that message.”
It’s even more important to share her latest message.
It’s easy to think of Williams as invincible and otherworldly. She’s won 23 Grand Slam titles, one shy of the record, and she made it all the way to the Wimbledon final in just her fourth tournament after having Olympia. She and husband Alexis Ohanian lead fabulously glamorous lives that include hobnobbing with royalty, and they have the financial means to hire an army of nannies if they so wish.
But none of that makes Williams immune to second-guessing herself, or spares her those soul-crushing feelings of inadequacy.
“Last week was not easy for me,” Williams wrote Monday night. “Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom.”
Everyone has days when they’re overwhelmed and feeling as if, no matter what you do, it’s never going to be enough. If you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, a terminal illness, the end of a marriage, a sudden loss of a job – anything – it’s made 100 times worse by the inevitable feeling that you’re enduring the devastation alone.
To give voice to that is both healthy and necessary, but too often we soldier on in silence. Williams is refusing to do that.
“I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best,” she wrote. “Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal.”
And by sharing her struggles, Williams lets us all know those are totally normal, too.
Admitting our vulnerabilities isn’t easy. But if someone like Serena Williams can do it, the rest of us can, too.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.