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Serena Williams reveals struggle with 'postpartum emotions': 'I just was in a funk'

The tennis superstar shared with other moms: "It's totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby."
by Eun Kyung Kim / / Source: TODAY

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Serena Williams is opening up to other moms about not feeling good enough for her daughter and sharing details about the recent “funk” she experienced because of that belief.

“Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk,” she wrote on Instagram. “Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom.”

Williams, 36, became a new mom last September to her daughter, Alexis Olympia. She’s been open about the emotional journey parenthood has taken her, including the heartbreak of missing her baby's first steps because she was training at the time.

Williams said she has been boning up on background about what she has been experiencing recently and wanted to provide assurances to other moms in a similar position.

“I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with,” she wrote.

“I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal,” she continued. “It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby.”

The 23-time Grand Slam champion was the runner-up in last month’s Wimbledon, her fourth tournament since becoming a mom and dealing with scary health complications after giving birth.

Last week, she suffered the most lopsided defeat in her career — a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Brit Johanna Konta during the Silicon Valley Classic.

Williams said it’s been tough learning how to juggle the new roles in her life.

“We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be," she wrote Monday.

"Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes."

Williams, who recently described the conflict she felt in deciding to stop breastfeeding, said she understands the difficult decisions parents face constantly.

"I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week — it’s ok — I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!"

NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar said many new moms don't realize that postpartum depression can occur any time within a year after giving birth. She said many women are surprised when, 9 or 10 months after delivery, begin to wonder: "Why am I suddenly feeling this way?"

Azar said roughly 80 percent of all new moms experience "baby blues" after having a child. That means they go through mood swings, experience exhaustion and crying spells. But feelings that linger much longer than a few weeks or get strong enough to interfere with daily tasks can be signs of postpartum depression. When that happens, women need to contact a health care provider, she said.

Azar commended Williams for raising attention on the issue.

"Making it more public with social media, she’s really done a public service because there’s a lot of people who are going to hear her story and think about what they’re experiencing and hopefully can get help," she said.

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