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Serena Williams

Serena Williams Invests in StartUp Fighting Maternal Mortality

Tennis superstar Serena Williams and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have teamed up to invest in a startup working to end maternal mortality. 

Williams has a passion for helping mothers. After she had her young daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., the 37-year-old revealed her own life-threatening birth complications. Fortune reports Serena Ventures and Cuban have invested $3 million in Mahmee.

The company provides a number of online resources such as group discussions with other moms, medical provider info and trained “maternity coaches” who can flag if something is wrong.

Other services include patient monitoring and video calls with medical experts. There are paid tiers starting at $20 and ending at about $200. As of this report, Mahmee has about 1000 providers in their network. 

The 23-time Grand Slam winner knows all too well what Black mothers face. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Black women are three to four times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than non-Hispanic white women.” 

“I am incredibly excited to invest and partner with Mahmee, a company that personifies my firm’s investment philosophy,” Williams said in a statement. “Given the bleak data surrounding maternal death and injury rates, I believe that it is absolutely critical right now to invest in solutions that help protect the lives of moms and babies.”

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Serena Williams’ Shocking French Open Loss Follows with Controversy

Serena Williams delighted fans around the world with an uplifting message in the wake of her surprise defeat at the French Open this week.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner is an inspiration to moms everywhere as she continues to excel after giving birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in September 2017.

She is now 37 years old and most players would have retired by now, but Williams continues to compete at the highest level. She slumped to a shock loss to world number 37 Sofia Kenin this week, but she was praised for her response.

“Yesterday was not my day,” she wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post. “But it’s about getting up time and time again after you fall. Here’s to a multitude of tomorrows.”

Eva Longoria and Ciara were among the celebrities to salute her message.

Williams suffered a pulmonary embolism after giving birth, leaving her bedridden for six weeks and delaying her return to training, but she has continued to excel and she finished runner-up at the US Open last year.

That followed victory at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, showing just what a magnificent competitor she is.

Leading betting sites like sportsbetting.ag rank her among the frontrunners to win Wimbledon and the US Open later this year, and it would be a brave tennis fan to bet against her.

She is widely regarded as the greatest player of all, having secured the most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, and she is just one behind Margaret Court, who has 24 Grand Slams, on the all-time list. If she can win one more Slam she will move level with Court and that would be an amazing story for an athlete that serves as a tireless champion for all mothers.

Yet Williams has also faced a great deal of criticism this week after Australian clay court specialist Dominic Thiem was ousted from his press conference in order to make way for her.

She wanted to get her post-match press duties over and done with as quickly as possible after her defeat to Kenin, but she was told that Thiem was using the room.

After further talks, officials decided to kick him out to accommodate Williams, prompting a furious reaction as he accused her of having “a bad personality”.

“I don’t really get it, seriously,” he said. “I mean, what the hell? No, but it’s a joke, really. I have to leave the room because she’s coming? It doesn’t matter if it is me who sits in there, even if a junior is in there. I am 100% sure Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would never do something like that.”

Eurosport pundit Annabel Croft slammed her behaviour and demanded she apologize to Thiem.

“It is a question of who is in charge here. It is unbelievably disrespectful to a man that is still in the draw,” said Croft. “She should be made to wait an extra five minutes until finished. Had it been a role reversal there would have been absolute uproar. It’s just appalling.”

There has been no response as of yet from Williams, but it could be a misunderstanding.

Some say she asked for Room 2 and not for Thiem to be moved, and the organizers just decided to evict the Austrian from the main room. Staff at the French Open have questions to answer.

Williams also had every right to be keen to get media duties out the way as quickly as possible.

She had lost and she would have been desperate to get back to her daughter as soon as possible, so everyone should give her the benefit of the doubt and let her get on with dazzling on court and being a great mom.

Victoria Azarenka feared pregnancy would end her tennis career

Victoria Azarenka: Back playing tennis with a smile on her face. photo by Tatiana

When Belarusian tennis ace Victoria Azarenka announced her surprise pregnancy, she feared that she would never play professional tennis again, despite confirming her intentions to return to the court after giving birth. Azarenka was ranked sixth in the WTA world rankings at that point and had just celebrated landing her 20th WTA tour title.

In a recent interview, Azarenka said that when she was forced to cut her 2016 season short, she admitted her initial thought was “oh my god, I’m never going to play tennis again”.

Ending her 2016 campaign was like “ripping off a band aid” to Azarenka. She admitted that she cried down the phone to her mother, but soon realised that she didn’t know what she was crying about.

Azarenka eventually took to motherhood like a duck to water. She said that after giving birth to baby son, Leo, in December 2016, she “felt so much stronger physically” and that her “body finally matured into being a woman”.

She returned to the WTA circuit in June 2017 and went deep into the fourth round at Wimbledon, which was a big achievement considering her nine-month absence.

Azarenka’s decided to return to tennis quickly after giving birth, around the same time as Serena Williams, who recently opened up about her insecurities as a mom, announced her own pregnancy, This brought the WTA’s maternity policies into the spotlight once again.

Last year, Azarenka and Williams, along with Venus Williams, Johanna Konta and several other stars, successfully campaigned for the introduction of improved ranking protection for expectant mothers playing on the circuit.

Prior to the 2019 season, female players had to return from giving birth or injury within three years to be able to utilize a special ranking for eight tour events in a year. However, this year, players returning from childbirth or injury can use their previously held ranking to enter up to 12 tournaments during a three-year period.

They will also not be required to face a seeded player in the first round of a tournament. Azarenka said: “We have the power to change the rules and we have done.” The 29-year-old says that “is what [she] wants [her] legacy to be”.



Azarenka is one of the most competitive players on the WTA tour. Photo by Christian Mesiano

On the court, 2018 marked a solid return to action for Azarenka, who returned inside the top 100 in the WTA world rankings. A semi-final run at the Miami Open was arguably the stand-out moment that underlined her return to form.

However, at Wimbledon, she would reach the mixed doubles final, partnering Scotsman Jamie Murray.

At the beginning of this year, Azarenka finally managed to return to one of her favorite events, the Australian Open, after being forced to pull out of the previous year’s tournament due to her ongoing custody battle.

Although the Belarusian slipped to a disappointing first round loss to Laura Siegemund in Melbourne, Azarenka has since enjoyed greater success both in singles and doubles.

In the former, she battled her way to the final of the WTA Monterrey Open, before having to retire in the second set against defending champ, Garbine Muguruza.

She also bagged some silverware in the doubles, winning in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel hard court tournament with partner, Zheng Saisai.

Hard courts have always been favoured by Azarenka, due largely to her aggressive baseline style. She has two Australian Open titles to her name, but the US Open is the other hard court Grand Slam that has alluded her thus far.]

In terms of the leading female contenders to win the US Open, Azarenka is probably in the top 20.

Age is obviously not on her side, but Williams has proven that this doesn’t have to be an issue. Japanese starlet, Naomi Osaka will be looking to retain her crown after winning her first Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows last year.

There are two Grand Slams to play between now and then. However. Azarenka is yet to reach a final at either the French Open or Wimbledon. Whether she is likely to do so this season is up for debate.

Nevertheless, as of May 2019, Azarenka’s world ranking now stands at 43. Less than three years after announcing her pregnancy, it may have been a long road back towards the world’s top 50, but she is making inroads month by month to get back to her best.

Serena Williams’ Poshmark Sale of Daughter’s Clothes Sold Out In Hours

Tennis phenom Serena Williams, a board member of resale website Poshmark, placed her daughter Alexis Olympia’s clothes on sale inside her Poshmark store and sold out all items within hours.

The proceeds from the clothing sold in Serena’s store benefit Yetunde Price Resource Center, named for Williams elder half-sister who was gunned down in Compton in 2003. YPRC offers resources to victims of direct or indirect senseless violence.

All of the 44 items sold were marked down 25% off and more and the prices were quite reasonable starting at $10.

This is not Williams’ first foray either into fashion. The Tennis Star launched her own clothing line “Serena” in 2018.

She joined the board of my fave place to unload clothed in my closet, Poshmark, in February 2019.

Williams is following in her husband’s StartUp footsteps by joining the PoshMark board and has been on the board of consumer survey start-up SurveyMonkey for two years now.

Williams has said she’s learned more about Silicon Valley since meeting her husband Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and a handful of other start-ups.

Check out the closet and check back to see when new items come up for sale.

And visit my store too while you’re there!

The Hate Meghan Markle Gets

This week, I was in awe to see all of the British and American press making a big deal over the fact that Serena Williams, Amal Clooney and Gayle King threw Meghan Markle a baby shower which some are estimating cost close to a $500,000, when you consider the security and private jet to NYC from the UK and back.

Some are discussing whether it was too lavish.

My thoughts: first, no one knows if that estimated number of the cost is entirely accurate.

Second: So what?

I’ve been covering celebrity baby showers for as long as this blog has existed, which is over 10 years, and I do not recall anytime that news and gossip outlets discussed the cost of a celebrity baby shower.

Granted, I do understand that baby showers are uncommon among the British, so any shower at any cost may seem exorbitant. However, Kensington Palace had to come out and state that Markle paid for the cost of travel and her stay herself.

They may have pointed out how lavish they were but none reported on the cost, to my recollection.

Let’s take a look at other celeb showers because, what does one expect from people who are rich and/or wealthy and have resources and funds to throw lavish affairs?

For example, Cardi B‘s shower featured a 16-foot topiary floral wall, room entrance ways that resembled a 6-car subway train, and several rooms draped in 26,000 pink and white flowers.

Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant‘s shower featured a floral wall.

In June 2016, Nicky Hilton had a baby shower at The Towers at the top of  the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. 

Kim Kardashian had what looks like a dozen cherry blossom trees in her baby shower venue for baby Chicago and her sister Kylie Jenner had an elaborate outdoor baby shower for baby Stormi.

Khloe Kardashian had tons of pink roses, topiary and florals at her shower.

Here are some snaps from baby showers Other celebs had:

Ciara

Naya Riviera

Adrienne Bosh

Tia Mowry Hardrict

Tamera Mowry-Housley

Jessica Simpson

Andy Cohen

Honestly, I think this young woman is getting more criticism than her predecessor non-royal wife, Duchess Catherine, Kate Middleton.

It reminds me of the criticism Michelle Obama received to the cost of her clothing, hullabaloo which was not similarly made over the cost of Barabara or Nancy Bush or Hillary Clinton‘s First Lady clothing prior.

Serena Williams Opens Up About Being Insecure As a Mom

Serena Williams shared her insecurities as a mother to a women’s conference on Friday.

“I always have these insecurities that I’m not good enough as a >mom,” the tennis champ told the group of about 10,000 attendees at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. “We all go through these different emotions that we all don’t feel comfortable talking about. But I think we should.”

The Philly Voice reported that during the event, Williams, who had a post-partum scare, expressed her shock about learning about the disparity of health outcomes with black and white moms.

She also talked about the pride she has in the fact that since becoming a mom,  she has become an outspoken model and inspiration for working women worldwide.

Williams wrapped up her time in the hotseat by saying she wants her 1-year-old daughter to grow up in a world where women support other women.

The success of another woman should be the inspiration to the next,” Williams said.

She and hubby Reddit co-Founder Alexis Ohanian are parents to 1-year old daughter Alexis Olympia Jr.

photo: Getty

 

 

Colin Kaepernick Nick ‘Just Do It’ Campaign: Celebs, Customers Pick Sides

Are you boycotting Nike for selecting former quarterback Colin Kaepernick as its spokesperson for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign?

If so, I’d like to suggest instead of throwing away your Nike products or burning them as some of his detractors and Donald  J Trump supporters have done online, that you consider donating them to homeless Military vets! Here are organizations you can donate to:

Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49er has not played in the NFL since 2016, the year he began to take a knee during the National Anthem as a silent protest against police brutality. Dozens of other players followed his lead, which led to heavy criticism of the NFL and many angry fans boycotting the sport entirely. Due to this controversy, Nike, which signed Kaepernick in 2011, held off in using him for ad campaigns. However, Nike kept him on their roster even after Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017.

Several celebs including our Bellyitch Bumpwatch alums Chelsea Peretti and his fellow brand spokesperson Serena Williams shared their support online.

On Friday night, Kaepernick and his former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, a Pro Bowl safety who joined in the protests and also now out of the league, were each given huge ovations when they were introduced and shown on the big screen during a match between Serena and Venus Williams at the U.S. Open.

If you are team Kaep and plan to purchase Nikes in support of this campaign and to counter the 3 percentage point dip in stock price the company has suffered because of this announcement, I curated a few pieces from my partners at Shopstyle for you to pick from:

Social Media Helps Celebs Keep It Real About Pregnancy and Early Motherhood

The Independent explores the shift in celebrity pregnancy coverage being more authentic and real about the trials of pregnancy, labor, delivery and early motherhood and credits social media for it

EXCERPT:

Years ago, a pregnant starlet might drop out of the spotlight for a while – only to reemerge in a magazine looking well-rested and snuggling with an angelic infant.

See various People magazine covers: Jennifer Lopez in 2008, resplendent in a floor-length gown with an infant nestled in each arm, above the headline “TWIN BLISS!”; Angelina Jolie in 2006, gazing adoringly at Brad Pitt, as baby Shiloh snoozes away; Julia Roberts, looking dewy and fresh-faced in 2005 as she cradles her twins.

Now fans are starting to see a different side of postpartum celebrities: Model Chrissy Teigen shares an Instagram story that features her stretch marks and confesses that she’s “super insecure” about her body; actress Olivia Wilde posts an Instagram photo of her messy bun with the caption, “I call this hairstyle, ‘keep the kid alive’ “; tennis legend Serena Williams tweets about balancing work and her daughter: “She took her first steps . . . I was training and missed it. I cried.”

The common denominator in all those examples, naturally, is social media. The advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat made stars realize that they could connect with the public on a deeper level about personal subjects – and that fans appreciated honesty about the less-than-glamorous aspects of their #blessed lives.

“Social media has been such a game changer. . . . Celebrities are speaking directly to the fan base. Once they started doing that, things just got a lot more real,” said Kate Coyne, executive editor of People magazine. “One evolution of that concept has been celebrities sharing the realities of pregnancy, infertility, child-rearing, infancy, toddlerhood. It goes hand in hand with what social media is all about.”

Lately, celebrities have also been spilling details about serious medical issues surrounding childbirth. In January, Williams told Vogue that she had a potentially fatal complication during labor, including blood clots in her lungs.

Read the entire piece The Independent:

 

The Perfect Reactions to Serena Williams’ Post-Pregnancy Blood Clot Compression French Open CatSuit Ban

The outfit Tennis champ Serena Williams wore to compete in the 2018 French Open last May triggered the competition to ban her from donning that “Wakanda”-inspired black super hero cat suit for future competitions.

“I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted,” French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said in an interview with Tennis Magazine, adding it won’t adapt as strict a clothing code as Wimbledon, which requires players to wear all white, but will have its limits. He added that the FFT will be looking to view collections ahead of next year’s tournament.

The 23-time Grand Slam champ designed the suit with her sponsors at Nike with special compression material and technology to aid with blood clots she has and developed dangerously after delivering her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. with her husband Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

“I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess,” Williams said during a press conference, adding that she felt like a queen from Wakanda, the fictional nation in the movie “Black Panther.”

“I’ve always wanted to be a superhero,” Williams said. “It’s kind of my way of being a superhero.”

Besides making her feel amazing, Williams’ said the outfit choice was also meant to inspire other new moms, especially ones who have also suffered post-pregnancy health issues. “For all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy — here you go. If I can do it, so can you!” she wrote on Instagram at the time. She had been in bed for weeks after delivering because of the clots.

I’ve been wearing pants in general a lot when I play so I can keep the blood circulation going,” Williams told reporters. “So it’s a fun suit but it’s also functional, so I can be able to play without any problems.”

This is yet another bump in her road after motherhood.  Not only did she lose her rank when she had a baby last September, but she also suffered postpartum blood clot related near-death experience, postpartum blues too.

Nike had the perfect response to the catsuit ban:

“You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.

I loved April on Twitter’s response which was supported by another Tennis Legend, Chris Evert!

 

And others not so subtdly pointed out that Serena was not the first to wear a catsuit though the first to be banned for it.