Serena Williams is a superhero in more ways than one: She's a world tennis champion, an activist for equality, and a mother to almost-2-year-old daughter Olympia, whom she raises with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. But it's not easy being a working mom, especially when you're a highly visible pro athlete. As she competes in the U.S. Open this weekend, Williams shared in an on-court interview, per Forbes, how difficult it could be being away from her daughter during tournaments.
"I actually prefer playing in the day because I get to go home and see my baby," Williams, the No. 8 seed and 23-time major champion, said on court after dispatching Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-2, to advance to the fourth round. "I’ve been missing her the last few nights when I play."
Although there won't be a birthday party—Williams is a Jehovah's Witness and doesn't celebrate birthdays—Olympia turns 2 on Sunday, September 1. Williams reflected on Olympia's birth and her own career since having her daughter.
"I think two years ago I had things attached to my arm, IVs, and it was a miracle that happened, having my baby," she said, according to Forbes. "It was really a great day for me. Then it all went downhill. It all went downhill after that for a good five days. But I'm here, and I'm going to be reflecting on my opponent more than anything."
Williams added that Olympia has been saying "By-ee" every day when the tennis great leaves for the U.S. Open, which lasts two weeks.
"It's different," Serena said, according to Forbes. "In the beginning she would really be upset when I left. And now she's a little bit better. I think I'm a little more upset. But at the same time, she definitely still takes it a little hard. She's still super young.
"You know, it's hard. Sometimes my heart literally aches when I'm not around her. But, you know, it's good for me, I guess, to keep working and just to all moms out there that it's not easy. It's really kind of painful sometimes. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do."
Once the tournament is wrapped, however, things to back to normal—and the two have plenty of time to hang together. Williams takes care of training in the morning and then be with her the rest of the day.
"Usually I'm with her, I can train really early in the morning and be done pretty early with my day, and I can just stay with her for the rest of the day," she said, per Forbes. "In tournament schedule, it's totally different, so I'm kind of pushed out of my usual day-to-day life. Oh, my God, I'm not with her. That's been the most, I mean, the toughest thing I have ever dealt with in my career."
It's not the first time she's opened up about missing her daughter when work calls: She was away training at the All England Club on Saturday when Alexis decided to take her first steps. Williams got on Twitter to share the experience and other moms immediately swooped in to comfort her. "My motherhood rule: the first you see is the first time it happened FULL STOP!" one wrote. And yep, that seems fair enough to us.
Originally Appeared on Glamour