Serena Williams has opened up about her decision to stop breastfeeding her daughter Alexis Olympia at six months old. The seven-times Wimbledon champion made her return to the grass courts of SW19 on Monday, after taking a year away from the game to welcome her first child – who is now 10 months old – with husband Alexis Ohanian. Speaking at a press conference ahead of the tournament, Serena spoke about the tough decision to stop breastfeeding her only daughter, who goes by her middle name Olympia, in order to return to her world-class athletic form. "It was interesting because all these articles, over pop culture, you hear when you breastfeed you lose weight, you're so thin," the 36-year-old said. "That wasn't happening to me."
Serena was referring to the experience she shared with viewers of her HBO documentary series Being Serena. On the programme, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou told her in early May that unless she decided to stop breastfeeding, she would not go back to dominating the world of women's tennis.
Serena spoke candidly to reporters at Wimbledon about the emotional moment she decided to stop breastfeeding her little girl.
"Once I got to six months I felt good about [giving up breastfeeding]. Then it was just emotionally letting go," she said. "I literally sat Olympia in my arms, I talked to her, we prayed about it. I told her, 'Look, I'm going to stop. Mommy has to do this.' I cried a little bit, not as much as I thought I was. She was totally fine."
Serena added: "After that, I lost 10 pounds in a week, I just kept dropping."
The doting mum had a good reason for speaking openly about her personal experience: to empower other women. "What I've learned through the experience is that every person is different, every physical body is different," she explained, adding, "I think it's important for us to share that message."