THE BOUNCEBACK

BY Julian Yap Joe Nin

What is the major news this week?

Yes, Serena Williams is PREGNANT.

Just a couple of days ago, Williams took to her Snapchat by posting a picture of herself in a yellow bathing suit with a caption titled, ’20 weeks’. Her spokesperson later confirmed that she and her fiancé Alexis Ohanian were indeed expecting their first child.

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Serena Williams on her own Snapchat

It only gets better from here.

This news also meant that Williams was pregnant when she won the Australian Open final against her sister Venus Williams back in January this year.

Tell me again – what can Serena Williams NOT do?

She’s already surpassed Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22. Now, she’s only one title short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24, which she claimed between 1960 and 1973 – Williams exceeding Court is definitely happening and the rest will be history.

Williams will have to take some time off the tennis court and now, spend it in the maternity department.

Her baby’s on the way.

BUT if there’s one thing I know for a fact about her is that she’s anything but far from being done with tennis.

I would not expect anything less from Williams than her returning to the court shortly after giving birth and slaying like no other by winning major championships.

Others have done it, which means so can Williams.

Take, Kerri Walsh Jennings, for example.

She is an Olympic legend in volleyball – Misty May-Treanor and her became the first woman’s beach volleyball pair to win three consecutive gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics. Their first win was at the 2004 games in Athens. Four years later in Beijing, they made history becoming the first team to win back-to-back golds in the event.

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Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings embrace each other in London after becoming the first three-time gold medalists in Olympic beach volleyball history // Pinterest 

Talk about teamwork right there.

Speaking of Williams, her celebratory news is one that Walsh Jennings can certainly relate to – she was five weeks pregnant when she won her third Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball in 2012.

But I cannot help but wonder if engaging in such rigorous activity by competing in the Games would have affected both their pregnancies in any way.

You would think so but the answer’s NO.

According to NBC’s chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman, fetuses are very tiny, well protected and hearty, a couple weeks into a woman’s pregnancy.

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Kerri Walsh representing the United States in 2012 at the London Summer Olympic Games in beach volleyball // Today

For Walsh Jennings, her five-week old pregnancy during the London Games would have been very well protected by the muscular uterine wall as well as the layers of muscles around her abdomen.

‘ABS’ as you call it – what most women and men constantly drool about.

Jokes. Not really.

Am quite serious actually.

The same thing can be said about Williams – her competing at the Australian Open did not increase the risk of any pregnancy complications.

The risk is most likely to be zero to none.

Plus, have you seen Williams’ body?

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Serena Williams in the 2017 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue // Sports Illustrated

Her baby will do just fine in there with that body as a shield.

This proves that women can certainly do anything even, the near impossible.

However as of late, many news sources have surfaced about how motherhood will not stop Serena Williams from sponsorships and winning major titles.

This seems very patronising to me.

Take, NBC and The Undefeated, for example.

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What were these publications thinking?

Did they seriously think that big names like Serena Williams would simply give tennis up for motherhood?

It seemed to me that when writing these articles, the writers behind the desks had this assumption at the back of their minds that there would be a slight chance that now she’s pregnant, Williams would just be a ‘mother’.

Why can’t she be both, a ‘mother’ and a ‘professional athlete’?

There is such a double standard here when it comes to women in sports.

Hear me out here.

If Serena Williams wants to take some time off from tennis to bond with her child after she gives birth, that’s great.

People all around the world, especially mothers would love her for doing that.

BUT, if she returns to the tennis court after giving birth, which would be a delight to many I’m sure, some would perceive this action as abandoning her child or not having much love for the child.

Women bring life into this world and that is an incredibly beautiful thing to witness.

But at the end of the day, women have careers too. They have worked very hard to get to where they are today and having a baby does NOT mean that they have to give that up.

All of those out there who are still holding onto this mindset, SCRAP it.

Also, this expectation that women should stay home and take care of her children whilst the men should go out to work to provide for the family.

REALLY?

Seriously?

Just get out of here already.

It is time to recognise that women are multitaskers. Better than anyone else even, myself. And most importantly, women can certainly have it all and they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Whether or not Williams chooses to return to the sport after her pregnancy is entirely up to her to make that decision.

NOT the news publications’.

One more thing.

Let’s leave women’s bodies out of the conversation, shall we?

There is always an expectation in society that women NEED to constantly look amazing all the time especially, after giving birth.

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One big happy family on the Today show, Kerri Walsh and her husband Casey Jennings welcome their newborn son Scout Margery Jennings // Daily Mail

If it’s not already stressful to have a baby, it’s worse when women get criticised for their body not bouncing back to what it originally looked like before.

Be more understanding.

Women’s bodies have endured so much and the bar’s been raised when they are pregnant. They have every right to take as long and as much time as they want to lose their baby weight.

For many, that is not their first priority.

They should not be pressured AT ALL.

For athletes, it may be different – their bodies are their temple.

Take a look at this article from Today.

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Today article from September 24, 2012 titled, “Beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings: I was pregnant at the Olympics” // Today

Leave Walsh Jennings and this expectation of needing her body to be ‘picture perfect’ behind.

“If history repeats itself, she will get back into shape and the bikini” – this, I’m not alright with.

She can take as much time as she wants.

Stop worrying about their appearance. Women are much more than that.

Get that in your head.

How about we celebrate and talk about their accomplishments and success they have achieved so far?

Like Williams and Walsh Jennings, this baby situation is no different in Hollywood specially within film and television.

Worse, there may be even MORE pressure for actors.

Let’s talk about English actress, Emily Blunt for a second.

Many will remember her role in The Devil Wears Prada as Miranda Priestly’s senior assistant, Emily Charlton – a sharp, witty, sarcastic, blunt and humorous character.

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Scene from The Devil Wears Prada // GIF

Other films that she is also known for include Into the Woods, The Edge of Tomorrow, The Huntsman: Winter’s War and The Girl on the Train.

Most recently, she gave birth to her second daughter Violet and of course, Hollywood expects her to bounce back to her toned, slim figure immediately.

There is no surprise there.

I would expect nothing less from them.

After all, Hollywood is all about presenting your best self forward and of course, that only means one thing especially for women – it’s all about your appearance.

Have a look.

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US Weekly article featuring Emily Blunt // US Weekly

Shame on you.

This was one of the quotes from the article itself.

“One hot mama! Just two months after welcoming her second child, Violet, Emily Blunt made her first post-baby red carpet appearance — and positively stunned — at a screening of The Hollars in NYC on Thursday, August 18.” – US Weekly

 Really?

“Positively stunned”?

Yayy for Blunt.

But even if she did not have a “slim post-baby body”, she is still gorgeous and one hell of an actress.

Unlike an athlete who’s always required to be fit, that is not necessarily a requirement for an actor.

Sure, they have to work very long hours but the profession of acting is not primarily based on how your body looks like.

Emily Blunt is still a formidable actress whether or not she is skinny, slim, fat, lean, toned or muscular.

That does not matter at all.

In 2006, Blunt received her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting actress for her performance in the TV film Gideon’s Daughter.

That same year, she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture and a nomination for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Devil Wears Prada.

 She received the BAFTA Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year in 2009.

In the same year, she received Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for portraying Queen Victoria in The Young Victoria.

The list goes on.

How about we talk about ALL THESE achievements instead of focusing on how she looks on the red carpet after her pregnancy?

I rest my case.

Cheers.

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