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Tennis champion Serena Williams reveals she 'almost died' after giving birth

The tennis star welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia in September

Sharnaz Shahid

Serena Williams has revealed that she nearly died after giving birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, in September. In an open letter to CNN, the former world tennis number one said she was left bed-bound for six weeks after suffering "a slew of health complications". She wrote: "I am lucky to have survived. My daughter was born by emergency C-section after her heart rate dropped dramatically during contractions. The surgery went smoothly." The 36-year-old, who is married to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, was forced to miss this year's Australian Open to allow herself more time to recover after the birth.

Serena Williams gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia in September

The tennis star explained how she was faced with a pulmonary embolism - a condition in which arteries can become blocked by a blood clot. Doctors then found a large hematoma in her abdomen. "First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism," she explained. "I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large haematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen. When I finally made it home to my family, I had to spend the first six weeks of motherhood in bed."

READ: Serena Williams opens up about life-threatening birth

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Earlier this year, Serena revealed that she felt short of breath the day after giving birth to her daughter. Doctors soon learnt that Serena had several clots in her lungs and she was immediately given a drip. Serena went on to discuss the challenges she now faces as a mother, telling Vogue: "Sometimes I get really down and feel like, 'Man, I can't do this'. It's that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that's just who I am. No one talks about the low moments - the pressure you feel, the incredible let-down every time you hear the baby cry."

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