Serena Williams says she was playing for all her fellow moms as she tried but failed to claim her eighth Wimbledon title on Saturday amid her post-pregnancy tennis comeback, while both she and her husband Alexis Ohanian assure fans she is "just getting started."
About 10 months after giving birth to their first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, the 36-year-old athlete became the first mother in 38 years to reach a a Wimbledon final, but lost to Germany's Angelique Kerber at Saturday's match, 6-3, 6-3.
"It was such an amazing tournament for me," Serena said after the match, getting emotional. "I was really happy to get this far. It's obviously disappointing but I can't be disappointed. I have so much to look forward to. I'm literally just getting started, so I look forward to it."
"To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today," she said.
Her husband, who cheered her on during the match, posted a heartwarming message on Instagram.
"Days after our baby girl was born, I kissed my wife goodbye before surgery and neither of us knew if she would be coming back. We just wanted her to survive—10 months later, she's in the #Wimbledon final," Alexis wrote. "@serenawilliams will be holding a trophy again soon—she's got the greatest one waiting at home for her —and our family knows she'll win many more trophies, too. She's just getting started."
Serena had suffered complications, including a pulmonary embolism that led to several surgeries, after giving birth to her daughter via C-section. She was bedridden for six weeks after her baby was born. At Wimbledon, she wore special compression leggings as a precaution.
Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle attended the match, in what marked their first solo engagement. The latter duchess is a friend of Serena. Kate and Meghan later congratulated Angelique on her victory.
Serena missed competing in last year's Wimbledon because of her pregnancy. Last weekend, she missed watching her daughter take her first steps because she was training for Wimbledon.
Serena began her maternity leave in January 2017 after she won her record 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. She was nine weeks pregnant at the time.
The tennis star returned to play tennis in December and lost an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. In March, Serena played her first official pro tennis match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. She played in the French Open in May, winning her first major match since becoming a mom. She pulled out of the Grand Slam tournament in the fourth round due to an injury.
She had told E! News that month, "In some weird way, I still want to be the best in what I do, whether it's fashion or tennis. I just want to be the best and I want to work the hardest. I also want to be the best mom. Why limit myself?"