Serena Williams Returns to Tennis With Exhibition Loss 4 Months After Giving Birth

She and husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia about four months ago.

By Corinne Heller Dec 30, 2017 5:27 PMTags
Serena WilliamsTom Dulat/Getty Images

Serena Williams is back on the court after taking most of the year off following the birth of her first child, but her comeback was marred by a loss.

On Saturday, four months after she and husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia, Serena played an exhibition match against defending French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. She dropped the first set 6-2, rebounded to win the second set 6-3 and then fell behind 5-0 while losing the match tiebreaker 10-5, according to ESPN.

"I'm excited. It's good to be back on the court," Williams said after the match, the outlet reported. "This was such a good time for me...First matches back are always super-incredibly hard, especially after having a baby. It was great. I was glad I could do it here."

This marked Serena's first competitive game since she won her record 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open in January—when she was nine weeks pregnant.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told reporters earlier this month that Williams was "very likely" to return to play at the annual event, which begins on January 15, to defend her Grand Slam title.

Serena's husband joined her and cheered her on in Abu Dhabi.

"Mama is back in the office," he wrote on Instagram on Saturday.

Serena Williams' Best Quotes on Motherhood
Tom Dulat/Getty Images
Watch: Most Unexpected Moments From Serena Williams' Wedding

A day earlier, the 36-year-old tennis champion, the world's highest paid female athlete, posted on her Instagram page photos from her pregnancy, including a picture of her at the 2017 Australian Open.

"This year has been amazing for me. As it comes to its end I want to share 10 personal moments," she wrote. "1. The day I found out I was pregnant. I had to pretend I everything was normal but I was dying inside. After all I had a grand slam to play. 2. Melbourne 7 weeks pregnant 3. Wow I won the Australian Open. I was 9 weeks by than. No one knew outside of [my sister] Venus [Williams] and my fiancé Alexis."

She also included pics of her playing tennis when she was over seven weeks pregnant, a photo of herself when she was 24 weeks pregnant, a pic of her a day before she checked into the hospital to give birth, images from her bridal shower, and Vanity Fair's cover of her posing nude while pregnant.

Serena's rep had said in April that the tennis star would take maternity leave and take time off from tennis until 2018.

Serena's husband, co-founder of Reddit, had also taken paternity leave to bond with their child. 

Check out sweet photos of Serena and Alexis' baby girl:

Smart and Strong

...Like Her Mama.

Sleeping Beauty


Mommy and Daughter

Serena and her little girl love Snapchat!

Pretty in Pink

"Making moves," read the caption on the photo, posted on the child's Instagram page.

Baby's First Halloween

"When you realize you're the hero Gotham needs," read the caption on the photo, posted on the child's Instagram page.

Bath Time

Serena posted on her Instagram page this photo of Alexis and baby Alexis, writing, "We love bath time."


Serena showcases her new wedding ring in this adorable pic of her daughter.

Teddy Bear Cutie

"Wait till I see you S," read the caption to this photo, posted on the child's Instagram page in December 2017.

Quality Time With Auntie

Olympia appears with Serena's sister Isha Price.


"Dad & I hit the gym hard today," read the caption to this photo, posted on the child's Instagram page in December 2017.


Mommy and daughter are twinsies!

New Year's Eve

The happy mama has some fun on Snapchat.

Dress Up Time

Serena's baby girl rocks a Janie and Jack's striped sweater dress on Instagram Stories. 

Sock Hop Style

Introducing the most stylish mother-daughter duo!

Coolest Kid

Olympia meets LL Cool J.


Serena and Olympia rock matching pink.

Sleeping Beauty

Even though she's dressed like Snow White, Olympia channels Sleeping Beauty during nap time.

Tea Time

"olympiaohanian loves her afternoon tea," Serena captioned this July 2022 snap, "and cheering for mama."

Zoom Squad

Olympia rides around a golf car with mom Serena and dad Alexis Ohanian Sr.

Big Sister Alert

Olympia became a big sister when Serena gave birth to daughter Adira River Ohanian in August 2023.

Precious Moments

The tiny tot is all smiles when she meets her little sister for the first time.

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