On Saturday and Sunday at Wimbledon, there were two moments of inspiration for everyone and it all stemmed from their only child. Serena Williams, besides being gracious in defeat to Angelique Kerber, apologised to mother’s everywhere for not going on to win the title. A day later, Novak Djokovic also acknowledged that fatherhood was a major motivation factor for him at SW19 this year.
Both players have over ten grand slams to their name – not a small feat by any stretch of imagination – and keep going on even as they are well into their 30s. Serena, who last won a grand slam at the Australian Open in 2017, was pregnant at the time. As she comes back and contests her first final at a grand slam, she missed her daughter’s first steps and almost won the title just 10 months since giving birth. Even more surprisingly, just nine months back, she could barely move. In the on-court interview after the loss, Serena said, “I was really happy to get this far. For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. I’m just me and that’s all I can be.”
“Well, I just like to tell all the moms, like, I had such a long struggle to come back, and it was really difficult. Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I’m just that person, that vessel, that’s saying, You can be whatever you want to be. If you want to go back to work, and to me after becoming a mom, I feel like there’s no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job,” she added in the post-match interaction.
Serena’s husband Alexis Ohanian had a fitting tribute for wife taking court – let alone getting to the final. “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. Congratulations, angie.kerber. serenawilliams will be holding a trophy again soon—she’s got the greatest one waiting at home for her. Our family knows she’ll win many more trophies, too. She’s just getting started. And I couldn’t be more proud,” he wrote on Instagram.
On Sunday, Djokovic had an extra person to celebrate in his player box as he won his fourth Wimbledon title. The Serb’s 3-year-old son Stefan – who is too young to be allowed to watch the match from inside Centre Court – arrived in time to see his dad lift the trophy. “It feels amazing because the first time in my life I have someone screaming daddy, daddy,” Djokovic said.
In the post-match interview, Djokovic was asked if fatherhood had changed his experience of the win. “It was one of, if not the biggest motivation I’ve had for this Wimbledon this year. I was visualising this moment of him coming to the stands, cherishing this moment with my wife and me and everyone. It’s hard to describe,” said the new number 10 player in the world.
“I never had him in the box watching the tennis match so I was hoping that Wimbledon could be that tournament because he’s big enough now. There are special rules here so we have to respect them. He was not there until the very moment when I was walking to do my interview on court. Then he walked in so that was just a moment that I will carry inside of my heart forever,” he added.