History has shown us that if you want to show off the beauty of your pregnancy as a star, the best way to do that is with Vanity Fair and iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Demi Moore did it. Monica Bellucci as well. Natalie Portman had her shot. And now, Serena Williams is has joined the elite club. She posed not just once, but twice in the same shoot in all her glory.
The 35-year-old mom-to-be wore nothing but a belly chain, her bump in full view, hair cascading down her back, as stunning as ever for the August 2017 issue:
Inside the magazine, Williams talked about her pregnancy, but a majority of the profile was about her relationship with fiancé Alexis Ohanian. The pair even took some breathtaking photos together at Highland Beach for the spread:
A few highlights from the interview include how Williams found out she was pregnant. The star, who was preparing for the Australian Open in January, found herself throwing up, breasts swelling out of nowhere. A friend, Jessica Steindorff, had a feeling she might be pregnant and encouraged Williams to take a pregnancy test. She did and actually forgot to check for her results because that’s how sure she was that was not pregnant:
“I put it down. I went back to finishing hair and makeup, was laughing, talking. I was getting the styling done. An hour and a half later, I went back to the bathroom and I totally forgot about it because it was impossible for me. . . . So I went back to get dressed and I went back in the bathroom and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that test.’ ”
Jessica shrieked in delight at the results. Serena, as she put it, “did a double take and my heart dropped. Like literally it dropped.
“Oh my God, this can’t be—I’ve got to play a tournament,” said Serena. “How am I going to play the Australian Open? I had planned on winning Wimbledon this year.”
There was also the story of how Williams and Ohanian, who some think of as an unlikely pair, met. It all happened in Rome, in May 2015, when Ohanian sat down at a table Williams and her crew reserved for their friends. They immediately tried to persuade him to go away:
“This big guy comes and he just plops down at the table next to us, and I’m like, ‘Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?,’ ” Serena remembered. Alexis recalled that the pool area was “not quite so empty.”
Then came the quintessential Australian accent of Zane Haupt. “Aye, mate! There’s a rat. There’s a rat by your table. You don’t want to sit there.”
Serena started laughing.
“We were trying to get him to move and get out of there,” said Serena. “He kind of refuses and he looks at us. And he’s like, ‘Is there really a rat here?’ ” At which point Serena remembers the first words she ever said to him.
“No, we just don’t want you sitting there. We’re going to use that table.”
“I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time.”
“Oh, you’re not afraid of rats?”
Which is when Serena suggested a compromise and invited Alexis to join them.
As for their first date, it didn’t take place until later in that same month. It involved a very long and very romantic walk around Paris:
After Serena won the Australian Open, the next big tournament was the second leg of the grand-slam circuit, the French Open, at Roland-Garros, later that month. She texted Alexis that she was bummed that he had not seen her play well in Rome and proposed that maybe he should come to Paris. To Alexis, it was one of those classically inverse L.A.-style invites that are extended because you are sure it will never happen.
But Alexis did come to Paris for the weekend. Not that he had any particular expectations. “Even if she blows me off and we don’t even hang out, I’m still going to have an amazing time in Paris, and I’ll have an even better story for all my childhood friends when I was like, ‘Yeah, I went to Paris for a weekend. I was supposed to meet up with Serena Williams, she blew me off, but I’ve got other friends there, and we had a great time.’
The tournament, which Serena would ultimately win, had not started yet. So Alexis and Serena got into an Uber near Serena’s apartment and drove toward the Eiffel Tower. They stopped at a zoo Serena knew about called La Ménagerie in the Jardin des Plantes, then at a stall selling candies. Serena became excited, like a small child, and Alexis bought her some.
Other interesting moments from her interview include Williams wishing Ohanian a happy birthday, which as a Jehovah’s Witness is not something you’re supposed to celebrate, how she believed he was initially interested in one of her friends, and the feeling she had right around the time he proposed. “I knew it was coming,” she said. “I was like, ‘Serena, you’re 35, you’re ready. This is what you want.’”
And while she didn’t feel ready for motherhood when she found out early this year that she was pregnant because she didn’t believe it to be the right time, that hasn’t stopped the tennis legend from embracing it. In fact, Williams, who is about seven months now, thinks pregnancy is going by way too fast.
“If you would have told me last year in October or November that I would have a baby, not be pregnant but have a baby, I would have thought you were the biggest liar in the world. This is kind of how I am right now. This is happening sooner than later, and it’s going by so fast.”
Check out her full interview and more gorgeous images from her photo shoot over at Vanity Fair.