Serena Williams is 20 weeks pregnant with her first child and is expecting to give birth this fall, her spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday night.
The legendary 23-time grand slam champion generated intense speculation on social media when she she uploaded a photo of herself to Snapchat in a swimsuit with the caption “20 weeks”.
Williams would ultimately delete the photo, but after more than six hours, her publicist Kelly Bush Novak confirmed that the 35-year-old was indeed pregnant.
"I'm happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall," Bush Novak said.
The news means that Williams, who announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at the beginning of the year, won the 2017 Australian Open without dropping a set while pregnant.
Williams’ victory in the final over sister Venus elevated her to most grand slam titles won in the Open Era, while she’s also the oldest player to win a major singles championship in the Open Era.
The announcement follows fellow grand slam champion and World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka giving birth to her first child - son Leo - earlier this year.
Williams is guaranteed to leapfrog Angelique Kerber and reclaim the World No. 1 ranking next week despite not playing since the Australian Open. The American is listed to compete at next month’s Mutua Madrid Open, but the tournament has stated they haven’t received notice of any impending withdrawal as of yet.
Speculation will now turn to whether Williams will hang up the racquet or continue her stellar career as a mother.
Williams is just one grand slam title off equalling the all-time grand slam record held by Margaret Court with 24 major singles titles, and taking her unrivalled competitive spirit into consideration, you’d say chances are high of a return to action.
Williams wouldn’t be the first mother to make a successful return to the tour in recent times - Kim Clijsters famously won the US Open in just her third tournament back after giving birth, while Azarenka is planning her own comeback towards the end of this year.