Serena Williams Pregnancy Alters Women's Tennis Futures at Majors

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 20, 2017 1:40 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017 1:40 PM UTC

Big news in the tennis world as world No. 2 Serena Williams, likely the greatest women’s tennis player ever and one of the best American female athletes of all-time, has revealed she is pregnant. What does this mean on the WTA Tour?

Back in January, Serena Williams beat sister Venus in the final of the Australian Open in a historic match because it was Serena’s 23rd career Grand Slam title, breaking a tie with German legend Steffi Graf for the most ever in the Open Era. What made that win even more impressive in hindsight? Serena was about two months pregnant.

On Wednesday, Serena posted a picture of herself on Snapchat with an apparent baby bump and the caption “20 weeks.” The picture quickly disappeared and Williams remained mum. Finally, though, a spokeswoman for Williams confirmed the pregnancy. Serena had announced in late December that she was engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. She will not play the rest of 2017 now.

Williams hasn't played since winning the Australian Open. She had pulled out of a couple of big tournaments in the USA in March citing a knee injury. Serena was the clear betting favorite to win the other three majors this year: the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, and perhaps complete the calendar year Grand Slam, one of the few things Serena hasn’t accomplished in her brilliant career.

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Now the favorite at the French Open on Bet365 tennis futures is Garbine Muguruza at 9/2. She upset Serena in last year’s final 7-5, 6-4 to win her first major championship. Muguruza, who lost to Williams in the 2015 final at Wimbledon, became the first Spanish woman to win a Grand Slam title since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won the last of her three French Open crowns in 1998. This year’s event in Paris begins May 28.

The new Wimbledon favorite is Germany’s world No. 1 Angelique Kerber at 4/1, with Muguruza second at 6/1. Serena beat Kerber in last year’s final. Kerber is also the 9/2 favorite to win the U.S. Open, which she did last year over Karolina Pliskova.

While Williams says she will return to tennis in 2018, that’s far from a sure thing. She will be 36 years old in September and might decide motherhood is something she wants to do full time. Or perhaps have another child. Then again, Serena might still be driven to break the overall record for Grand Slam titles of 24, set by Margaret Smith Court, who won some of those during the amateur era. Court won her final three slams in 1973 after giving birth to a son in 1972, so it can be done.

More recently, Kim Clijsters won the 2009 & 2010 U.S. Open and the 2011 Australian Open after giving birth to a daughter in 2008. No prominent singles player has ever returned from pregnancy at the age Williams will be attempting, though.

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