Serena Williams is expecting a baby and will not play again this year but aims to return to the women’s tour in 2018.
The 35-year-old posted a picture of herself via Snapchat captioned “20 weeks” on Wednesday and her publicist Kelly Bush Novak made an official announcement.
“I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall,” the publicist said in a statement.
While Williams won’t play again this year, “she looks forward to returning in 2018,” Bush Novak said.
Williams’ social media post showed the 35-year-old in a yellow swimsuit that revealed the baby bump.
But the post was quickly taken down, lending to an air of mystery over its meaning.
In December, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, first sharing that news on the Reddit social media site.
If Williams is 20 weeks into her pregnancy, that means she was already expecting when she won her record-setting 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January – where she beat her elder sister Venus in the final.
Here are a selection of the best tweets from the tennis community, congratulating Serena’s news:
@serenawilliams 🍼❤ 🎊!! You will be such an amazing mother and I wish your family health and happiness for the best journey in the world 😍— Angelique Kerber (@AngeliqueKerber) April 20, 2017
There's gonna be a baby GOAT ..... We are so happy, and we know @serenawilliams will be a great mother— andyroddick (@andyroddick) April 20, 2017
She won a grand slam pregnant. I needed Andy to dress me, carry me, and delicately place me on the toilet when I was 4 weeks pregnant. https://t.co/gxXaj6VVDF— Brooklyn Decker (@BrooklynDecker) April 20, 2017
"Auntie Caro" sounds pretty good to me☺️😍 Everyone around me getting pregnant! What a beautiful time 😍😍❤️👶🏼👶🏼👶🏼— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) April 20, 2017
A baby and a wedding? A VERY special year ahead for @serenawilliams So happy for her new journey...— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) April 19, 2017
And here’s some more reaction…
Serena Williams announcing her pregnancy on Maria Sharapova's birthday pic.twitter.com/t7t8R9Uu0q— chrissy (@chRIHssy) April 19, 2017
So Serena cheated. Because that's technically a doubles match.🙌🏽 https://t.co/gkyBYlcHtQ— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) April 19, 2017
Serena Williams is 20 weeks pregnant I hope I'm the baby— Evan (@Well_its_evan) April 19, 2017
Maria Sharapova will learn on May 15 whether she can compete at the French Open after her drugs ban, French tennis officials said Thursday, insisting the absence of pregnant Serena Williams would have no bearing on their decision.
Two-time Roland Garros champion Sharapova controversially returns next week from a 15-month drugs ban at the WTA Stuttgart Grand Prix.
Stuttgart offered the 30-year-old Russian a wildcard entry because she no longer has a world ranking – a move that angered some players. Sharapova has also been invited to clay-court events in Madrid and Rome.
Whether she receives a wildcard for Roland Garros will be revealed just a week before qualifying begins for the May 28-June 11 Grand Slam.
French Tennis Federation (FFT) president Bernard Giudicelli said last month they faced a moral dilemma and hinted he was against it.
If Sharapova misses out the French Open will go ahead in the absence of the two biggest drawcards in the women’s game, with Williams announcing Wednesday the end of her season due to pregnancy.
Waking up to 30 like....🤗🤗🤗 pic.twitter.com/JkcNspzB8z— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) April 19, 2017
“Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are two unconnected cases,” said Giudicelli. “We’re staging a Grand Slam, not a casting.”
If the FFT decides not to offer Sharapova a wildcard she still has a chance of making Roland Garros via the qualifiers, but for that route she must pick up enough points by winning or possibly even making the final in Stuttgart.
Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, had an initial two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) reduced to 15 months after she tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open for meldonium.
This was a medication the Russian had been taking when it was within the rules but which was later reclassified as a prohibited drug.
The Russian takes to the tennis court next Wednesday – the first day she is eligible to play, with some rivals disapproving of the Stuttgart decision.
“It’s a German tournament and we have so many good German players so this is a little strange,” said Germany’s world number one Angelique Kerber.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki said the Stuttgart tournament’s generosity towards Sharapova is “disrespectful to other players and the WTA”.
Whilst the rest of the ATP Tour are battling it out in Monte Carlo, Roger Federer was spotted training in Dubai this week – a home from home for the tennis legend – as he gears up for a big couple of months ahead.
A fan posted a picture with the 35-year-old this week (below), believed to be after one of his practice sessions in the city.
Federer is now back in full training mode following a period of rest but he has yet to confirm whether he will play in next month’s French Open.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion has previously stated that he wants to limit his time on clay and focus on going for more glory at Wimbledon – a tournament he has won on seven occasions.
For the Swiss – 2017 has gone as well as it possibly could have done. After famously claiming the Australian Open title, he went onto win back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and the Miami Open.
Earlier this month, Federer participated in The Match for Africa 3 exhibition clash against Andy Murray in Zurich – raising money for his foundation’s charitable work.
And on April 29, he will be in Seattle to face John Isner in the fourth installment of the series.