Serena Williams has confirmed on Wednesday, April 19, that she is pregnant and expecting her first child later this year.
The best women’s tennis player of this era and one of the world’s most prominent athletes, has not played a match since winning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open on Jan. 28, when she was already close to two months pregnant.
The announcement was the latest surprise from Williams, who unexpectedly announced her engagement to Alexis Ohanian, a businessman and the co-founder of Reddit, in December.
“I’m elated for her; I’ve seen her with our son, and she will be a great mother,” said Andy Roddick, a former men’s world No. 1 who is a good friend of Williams and has known her since childhood.
Williams’s pregnancy was confirmed after a wild day of speculation that began when a photograph was posted on Williams’ Snapchat story, perhaps inadvertently, that showed her posing sideways in a yellow bathing suit with what looked like a baby bump.
The image, which appeared to be taken in a mirror, was captioned “20 weeks” and later deleted.
Williams will turn 36 in September, but her spokeswoman Kelly Bush Novak said that while Williams would miss the rest of the 2017 season, she intended to return to the circuit in 2018.
“Serena said that I should make sure if anyone asks that that is clear,” Bush Novak said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Williams has won 10 of her 23 major singles titles since turning 30 and is by far the oldest women to hold the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings.
Williams did not lose a set as she swept to her seventh singles title at the Australian Open, defeating her older sister Venus Williams in the final. It is unclear whether Serena Williams knew she was pregnant during that tournament.
Williams has not played a tournament since that victory. She missed events in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami in March, citing knee problems.
She has played little outside the Grand Slam tournaments in the last 12 months, at the Italian Open in Rome and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last season and at the tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, in early January.