Serena Williams: How Motherhood Affects Women’s Career, By Saratu Abubakar
NEWS DIGEST – With a huge smile on my face, I scrolled through the 4th or maybe 5th video of Serena Williams on my social media timeline, I felt immensely proud of her but a little sad.
More than 20 years of swinging the racket with 23 Grand slam singles and 14 doubles later, Williams announced her plan to say farewell to Tennis.
There is no argument that Williams is one of the greatest players of our times, however, even she couldn’t win the gender war for an equal playing ground.
In Vogue’s 9th August issue, she spoke about being 41 and thinking about expanding her family.
Expanding family being one of William’s reasons to retire shows that at the end of the day for a woman something has to give; either the career or the family.
This is not to say anyone is more important than the other, there is no one size fits all, it differs based on choices. However, the choice to be a very good parent and thrive continuously in your chosen career seems so difficult to achieve for women.
In William’s words, “Something’s got to give.”
Recently, I had a conversation with an acquaintance about womanhood and career. The person, though not a woman insisted that something always has to give, it is about priorities.
Reading through William’s feelings about having to choose between tennis and a family, I feel a little sad. By no fault of anyone, I think it is sad that the playing ground would never be equal.
A man can go ahead and have a bright future, scale up the ladder in his chosen career, and still get to be an amazing father. For women, it seems impossible or rather difficult.
I don’t want to say impossible because personally and distantly, I know of women that are doing brilliantly in their jobs and raising kids but they seem to carry guilt over their heads like a halo.
It is always one thing or the other. Either mummy guilt for being away from their kids for a long time, for missing an inter-house sport, or guilt of taking a lot of leaves of absence at work due to unforeseen circumstances that come with being a mother.
Like most women I know personally, William can afford to have tons of nannies but mothers will tell you it is still not the same as being hands-on.
Then there is the societal pressure, that chews you and spits you out as a woman if you dare choose anything before your kids. There is the whole “how dare you?” attitude.
It seems like women can’t win. In the office, they have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to prove themselves and at home, they can’t move the way the fathers move if not that makes them bad mothers.
It is tough out there.
My favorite part of the article though was where William’s mentioned loving being a mother and also loving tennis.
I think women tend to be on a pedestal that sometimes limits them from speaking their truth.
For instance, how can you say you are exhausted when motherhood is supposed to be a beautiful thing?
However, women now are getting off the pedestal and being honest. They are letting us know that two truths can exist and it is possible to have two conflicting emotions about something, it is natural and it makes you human.
Like everyone though, William is finding her passion in other things. That is the thing about women, their tenacity is unmatched. When one door closes another would open and they will make it work despite how much the odds are against them and uneven the playing ground feels.
I wonder if we would ever get to the point where women don’t have to give up anything. Where we can thrive in our careers and still seamlessly be mothers. Where we can move like the fathers without having any parental guilt, where nothing has to give and the playing field would be equal for both genders.
Or maybe that is asking for too much and the world is not meant to be fair.