Tennis icon Serena Williams detailed fears she had during pregnancy, her relationship with husband Alexis Ohanian and her upbringing in the series premiere of HBO’s Being Serena.
The episode aired at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Williams and Ohanian were married in November. Alexis Olympia Ohanian was born on Sept. 1. Williams notoriously won the 2017 Australian Open while two months pregnant.
Being Serena is billed as a documentary series chronicling Williams at a pivotal moment in her personal and professional life. It will provide viewers with access to Williams’ life.
Williams admitted the differences between herself and Ohanian and also explained why they complement each other as a couple.
“Alexis and I are completely opposites,” she said. “I’m an athlete. He’s a business guy. I’m black. He’s white. We are total opposite.”
Ohanian was a self-proclaimed “nerd” growing up. He said the only parties he went to were those which involved his friends bringing their computers to a house and connecting them to play video games all night.
“I don’t know why we are such a good fit,” Williams said. “I think we just complement each other. I think we understand hard work in different ways.”
Wednesday’s episode — titled Fear — began with Williams talking about her daughter and the fear she has as a new mother.
“She’s the reason why this all means even more than it did before. Still there is no escaping the fear,” Williams said. “The fear that I might not come back as strong as I was. The fear that I can’t be both the best mother and the best tennis player in the world.”
Williams said she was in Melbourne, Australia when she had a dream about being pregnant. She took a pregnancy test and momentarily forgot to check the result. She found out she was pregnant a few hours later.
After the shocking revelation, she got clearance from her doctor to compete in the Grand Slam.
“It was really scary for me because I didn’t even want to win Australia,” Williams said. “I just thought how can I win some matches?”
Williams went on to defeat her sister Venus Williams, earning his seventh Grand Slam at the event, and 23rd Grand Slam overall.
“Deep down I know the reason she didn’t drop a single set at the Australian Open is because she just wanted to get off the court as soon as possible,” Ohanian said.
The footage then cut to Williams’ home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She showed off the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup she won in Melbourne, which now sits on a shelf in her daughter’s room.
“I wanted her to see the Australian Open trophy because she should know that having her in my body didn’t stop me from succeeding, from winning,” Williams said. “I think it’s important to have reminders of where you come from.”
Williams also talked about her life growing up, as footage from her youth flashed on the screen. The tape showed her with sister Venus and their father Richard.
“I come from Compton,” Williams said. “I come from a family that had to work for everything it got and took nothing for granted. I had to worry about all kinds of things growing up; gangs, robberies, murders, gunshots right outside our door. There was a lot to be afraid of. There was a lot to run away from. But ultimately that fear, it drove us forward. We’ve never stopped trying to win and we’ve never stopped trying to grow.”
The episode showed Williams working out with her trainer after she discussed the anxiety and pressure she dealt with when becoming a new mother. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has said she “nearly died” while giving birth, via emergency C-section.
Williams appears in the next chapter — titled Strength — at 10 p.m. Wednesday.