Speaking to US Vogue, Williams reveals she had to have emergency surgery in the days following the birth, which left her confined to her bed for six weeks.
Williams has a history of blood clots, and had been taken off her daily anticoagulant after the C-section. So the day after she gave birth to her daughter, when she started gasping for breath, her thoughts immediately turned to pulmonary embolism.
She asked a hospital nurse for a CT scan and IV heparin, but the nurse instead requested an ultrasound be performed.
“I was like, a Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,” Williams recalls telling hospital staff. They then performed the scan to find multiple blood clots in the tennis star’s lungs. “I was like, ‘listen to Dr Williams!’” she says.
Worse still, Williams’ C-section wound then broke open due to her intense coughing, US Vogue reports, requiring another surgical procedure, which in turn revealed a hematoma had flooded her abdomen – requiring yet more surgery.
It was a week before Williams could leave hospital, and another six weeks before she was able to leave her bed.
Thankfully, after an agonising start to motherhood, Williams and her partner, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, are loving life with their new daughter.
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire.