It's a baby girl for tennis champion Serena Williams

Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, has vowed to return to competitive tennis in January to defend her Australian Open title.
Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, has vowed to return to competitive tennis in January to defend her Australian Open title.PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI • Tennis superstar Serena Williams gave birth to a baby girl on Friday, United States media reported, prompting an outpouring of delight from her fellow professionals, celebrities and fans.

The 35-year-old was admitted to St Mary's Medical Centre in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Wednesday before going into labour overnight.

Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou confirmed the news on Twitter on Friday.

Elder sister and world No. 9 tennis player Venus Williams described herself as "super excited" after being told of the news before her third-round match at the US Open, the year's final Grand Slam tournament.

She declined to take questions on the subject at her post-match press conference.

Serena Williams, who is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was swiftly greeted with an avalanche of congratulations from well-wishers.

"Congrats Serena!!! So much joy for you!!!" tennis star Rafael Nadal of Spain wrote on Twitter.

ROLE MODEL

I'm so thrilled for her. And what a role model she's going to be for her daughter.

US TENNIS GREAT CHRIS EVERT, congratulating Serena Williams on the birth of her baby girl.

Pop diva Beyonce took to Instagram to send her message, posting a portrait of a pregnant Williams in a flowing white gown with the message: "Congratulations Serena!"

US tennis great Chris Evert added: "I'm so thrilled for her. And what a role model she's going to be for her daughter."

Fans wasted no time in anointing the tennis star's daughter as a future champion.

"Hello to the future queen of tennis," one post on Twitter read.

"A future champion is born," added another.

Those sentiments sparked light-hearted alarm from Spanish tennis star Garbine Muguruza.

Told that Williams' baby is a girl, the reigning Wimbledon champion replied in jest: "Well, I hope she doesn't play tennis."

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, has vowed to return to competitive tennis in January to defend her Australian Open title, which she won while she was newly pregnant.

"It's the most outrageous plan," she told Vogue magazine in an interview last month.

"I just want to put that out there. That's, like, three months after I give birth. I'm not walking anything back, but I'm just saying it's pretty intense."

A separate article in Vanity Fair in June said Williams, who unveiled her pregnant body in a nude cover photo for the magazine, planned to tie the knot with Mr Ohanian later this year after the birth.

The couple announced their engagement last December after meeting in 2015 in Rome.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'It's a baby girl for tennis champion Serena Williams'. Print Edition | Subscribe