Serena Williams started off the year by announcing that she was pulling out from playing in the Australia Open—quite understandably so, since she’d given birth to her first child, her daughter Alexis Olympia, only four months prior. (Playing her first match since giving birth just a week or two earlier was in fact what made Williams realize just how “super close” she felt, but not where she personally wanted to be.)
But this is Serena Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion, we’re talking about, meaning it took her less than a month—just two and a half weeks—for her to get completely back on track. On Tuesday, the U.S. Tennis Association announced that Williams is set to play her first competitive match in more than a year, joining Team USA in its defense of its Fed Cup crown next month.
She’ll also be joining her sister Venus Williams, marking the first time in two years that they’ve both been on the team, which they’ve played on together eight times. (All occasions in which, naturally, the U.S. team has never lost.)
Impressive as it may be, Williams’s quick return is hardly a surprise to those close to her. Just a month after she gave birth, the Australian Open’s tournament director Craig Tiley confidently said at a press conference that “Serena will be back” for the tournament, adding that “we look forward to welcoming her and again go on that journey of breaking the all-time record for the most number of Grand Slams.”
10 Famous Couples Spotted at the U.S. Open Over the Years:
Still, complications did arise that easily could have stalled her return: Williams recently revealed she had a medical scare after giving birth, leading to multiple surgeries for blood cuts she’d developed in her lungs, as well as a pulmonary embolism.
As much as Williams has been fawning over her daughter, though, she also seems determined not to let that get in the way of staying true to her other love: tennis. She was, after all, actually eight weeks pregnant when she last won her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at last year’s Australian Open.
Marvel at the Muscles in Sports Photography’s Best Pictures
Bob Martin (British, born 1959). Serena, 2004, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 8 1/2 x 12 7/8 in. (21.6 x 32.8cm). Courtesy Bob Martin
Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987). Pelé, 1977. Unique Polaroid print, 4¼ x 3 3/8 in. (10.8 x 8.6 cm). Image and artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Licensed by ARSImage may not be cropped, detailed, overprinted or altered.
Bob Martin (British, born 1959). Avi Torres of Spain sets off at the start of the 200m freestyle heats, Paralympic Games, Athens, September 1, 2004, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 14 x 9½ in. (35.6 x 24.1 cm). Courtesy of Bob Martin/Sports Illustrated
Thomas Pelham Curtis (American, 1873–1944). American Olympic Team at the 1896 Athens Olympics, 1896. Vintage photograph, 4 3/4 x 4 1/2 in. (12.1 x 11.4 cm). Collection of Thomas Pelham Curtis II
Joerg Mitter (Austrian, born 1980). Levi Sherwood of New Zealand performs in front of the St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square, Russia, June 24, 2010. Color photograph. Joerg Mitter // Limex Images
Georges Demeny (French, 1850–1917). Chronophotograph of an exercise on the horizontal bar, 1906. Black-and-white photograph. © INSEP Iconothèque
Ken Geiger, “Nigerian Relay Team,” Olympics, Barcelona, 1992.
David Burnett (American, born 1946). Platform diving, Olympic previews, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, May 1996. Digital inkjet print, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm). © David Burnett (Contact Press Images)
Howard Schatz (American, born 1940). Boxing Study 1805 Sergio Martinez, 2010. Archival pigment print, 42 x 42½ in. (106.7 x 108 cm). Photograph by Howard Schatz from At the Fights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing. Courtesy of the Staley-Wise Gallery, New York
Daniel Rodrigues (Portuguese, born France 1987). Football in Guinea Bissau, March 3, 2012, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 13 5/16 x 20 in. (33.9 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist
Brian Finke (American, born 1976). Untitled (Cheerleading #81), 2001, printed 2003. Chromogenic print, 30 x 30 in. (76.2 x 76.2 cm). Courtesy of the artist
Herb Ritts (American, 1952–2002). Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Point Dume, 1987. Gelatin silver photograph, 15 x 11 in. (38.1 x 27.9 cm). © Herb Ritts Foundation/Trunk ArchiveImage may not be cropped or altered
Franck Seguin (French, born 1960). Mixed Martial Arts Fight, UFC 154, Montreal, Canada, 2012, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 9 1/4 x 14 in. (23.7 x 35.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist
Lusha Nelson (American, 1900–1938). Joe Louis, Vanity Fair, October 1935. Black and white photograph, 10 x 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm). Courtesy of Condé Nast Archive
Rainer Martini (German, born 1948). High jump, Bavarian Track and Field Championships, Passau, Bavaria, July 2011, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 10¼ x 14 in. (26.1 x 35.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist
Krystle Wright (Australian, born 1987). Freefall, Michael Tomchek leaps off Castleton Tower (400ft) as fellow BASE jumpers look on, Castle Valley, Utah, 2010, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 13 1/4 x 20 in. (33.9 x 50.8 cm). Collection of Krystle Wright
George Rodger (British, 1908–1995). The Wrestlers, Kordofan, Sudan, 1949. Gelatin silver photograph, 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm). © George Rodger/Magnum Photos
Lourdes Grobet (Mexican, born 1940). Blue Sentado, from the series Lucha Libre, circa 2005. Color photograph. Courtesy of the artist
Gerard Rancinan (French, born 1953). Laura Flessel, 2001. Chromogenic print, 31½ x 39 6/8 in. (80 x 101 cm). Courtesy of the artist
David Octavius Hill (Scottish, 1802–1870) and Robert Adamson (Scottish, 1821–1848). Mr. Laing or Laine, 1843. Sepia-toned, salted paper photograph from calotype negative, 7¾ x 5 5/8 in. (19.6 x 14.3 cm). Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Mark Fisher (American, born 1976). Sage Cattabriga Alosa, Alaska, Extreme-Skiing, 2010. Digital print, 40 x 28 in. 101.6 x 71.1 cm). Courtesy of the artist
John Dominis (American, 1921–2013). American track and field athletes Tommie Smith (C) and John Carlos (R), first and third place winners in the 200 meter race, protest with the Black Power salute as they stand on the winner’s podium at the Summer Olympic games, Mexico City, Mexico, October 19, 1968. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman stands by, 1968; printed 2016. Inkjet print, 14 x 9¼ in. (35.6 x 23.3 cm). Courtesy of John Dominis/Getty Images
Carol Beckwith (American, born 1945) and Angela Fisher (Australian, born 1947). Surma Donga Stick Fighters, Ethiopia, 1990, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 20 x 29 7/8 in. (50.8 x 76 cm). Courtesy of the artists
Lev Borodulin (Russian, born 1923). Girl Archer, 1956. Vintage photograph, 13 5/8 x 9 1/16 in. (34.6 x 23 cm). Copyright Lev Borodulin, courtesy Nailya Alexander Gallery, NYC
Robert Riger (American, 1924–1995). The Golden Arm, Johnny Unitas, 1958. Gelatin silver print, 12 3/4 x 18 1/4 in. (32.4 x 46.4 cm). Collection of the artist. © Robert Riger. Courtesy of the Robert Riger Living Trust