NEW YORK • More trophies and children are hopefully in Serena Williams' future, the former world No. 1 said on Sunday, adding that she now has a new-found appreciation for the difficulties in raising both.
A day after celebrating her daughter Alexis Olympia's first birthday, tennis' most famous working mother had a little celebration for herself after securing a place in the US Open quarter-finals with a topsy-turvy 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 win over Estonia's Kaia Kanepi to leave her on track for a record-equalling 24th career singles Grand Slam.
She will now face eighth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, who overcame Australia's Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-4, in the last eight today.
Defending champion Sloane Stephens also eased into the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Belgian Elise Mertens.
Third-ranked Stephens, who has not dropped a set so far, is the highest-ranked woman left in the draw, with Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, the 19th seed, next up for her today.
Always an imposing physical presence, Williams conceded that she had expected to be back at her best sooner, but quickly learnt that her life had changed forever and along with that, the way she must approach the sport in the future.
A REALITY CHECK
In the real world, it takes a while for your body to come back. Mentally, physically and dealing emotionally with providing for another child, it's a lot that goes into it.
SERENA WILLIAMS , former world No. 1 who gave birth to daughter Olympia in September last year, conceding that it took longer than expected to return to her best on the tennis court.
"I was just living in this world where I thought it would just automatically come together," said Williams, who is just seven events into her comeback that began in March at Indian Wells.
"Society puts it out there that you'll just kind of snap back and that's just a myth. I feel like it's important for women to know that it doesn't happen like in Instagram.
"In the real world, it takes a while for your body to come back. Mentally, physically and dealing emotionally with providing for another child, it's a lot that goes into it."
However, to the public, the American is no longer just a tennis player but a tennis-playing mum.
Every interview she has conducted at the US Open, from courtside chats to post-match press conferences, now comes with the obligatory mother-daughter storyline.
The 36-year-old, who has often viewed her media obligations with drudgery, has so far delighted in sharing details of her motherhood experiences - from giving birth and dealing with post-pregnancy complications like blood clots to the simple joys of playing and spending time with her daughter.
Those thoughts now include future plans to grow her family.
"I have obviously thought of having more kids, and it will happen, God willing, in time," she added.
"Right now, it's not time yet because I'm thinking about playing tennis and enjoying this time with Olympia. Then I'll have plenty of time in the future to, hopefully."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS