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Serena Williams’s coach says she ‘clearly came back too early’ after childbirth

Serena Williams lasted just one match at the Miami Open, but her coach says she’ll be ready for Roland Garros. (Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)
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Serena Williams hasn’t had the smoothest return to the court after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia, which is hardly surprising considering the dire medical issues she encountered after her Caesarean section delivery Sept. 1. In her first tournament, Williams advanced to the round of 32 at Indian Wells in early March before falling to sister Venus, and then she suffered a straight-set loss to Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Miami Open later that month.

Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said the 23-time Grand Slam singles winner may have tried to do too much, too soon.

“Serena clearly came back too early,” he told “She was not ready yet but needed to feel the competition, so she decided to play even though she was far from being at 100 percent. It was a good experience as she realized all the work that needed to be done in order for her to be really ready.”

Williams has been training with Mouratoglou at his academy in the south of France and will remain there until the French Open begins May 21. She decided to skip the major clay-court warm-up tournaments in Madrid and Rome to get ready for Roland Garros, where she has won three times.

“After her pregnancy, Serena had to rebuild her body. When she arrived at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, around April 30, we realized that she was not ready yet. The time she lost after the delivery, with all the medical issues she had to go through, was missing,” Mouratoglou said.

“That is the reason why we decided to skip Madrid and Rome, as she needed five weeks to be perfectly ready. Then we worked with my team in order to prepare a program for her to get back in her best shape, including nutrition, fitness and, of course, tennis. So far, things are going very well. She is working extremely hard; she is improving in all the areas fast. I am very satisfied and confident that she will be ready for Roland Garros.”

Williams, who hasn’t competed in a Grand Slam event since winning the 2017 Australian Open while about eight weeks pregnant, nearly died of a pulmonary embolism and subsequent hematoma after giving birth to her daughter, and she was bedridden for her first six weeks as a mother. But Mouratoglou said she should be in line to compete for the French Open title, and he is “confident” she’ll be ready for Roland Garros.

“Serena will play the French Open to win it. Can she do it? Serena can achieve anything — after being her coach for six years, I’m even more sure of that statement,” he said.

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