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Serena Williams Says She Almost Died After Childbirth

Serena Williams serving the ball.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26: Serena Williams of the United States plays a forehand in her semifinal match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia on day 11 of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Serena Williams gave birth to her first child, her daughter Olympia, in September. The process almost turned tragic.

In a piece for CNN, the tennis legend revealed that she nearly died after giving birth. From the article:

It began with a pulmonary embolism, which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot. Because of my medical history with this problem, I live in fear of this situation. So, when I fell short of breath, I didn't wait a second to alert the nurses.

This sparked a slew of health complications that I am lucky to have survived. First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism. I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen. And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from traveling to my lungs. When I finally made it home to my family, I had to spend the first six weeks of motherhood in bed.

Serena Williams had a poignant reason for sharing this story with CNN. She used the platform to discuss women's health issues around the globe.

Williams touches on the issues that black women in the United States face. She cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in saying that they are "three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes" than others here in the United States.

She also promotes UNICEF, which works abroad, where issues in childbirth for both mothers and newborns are widespread. From Serena:

Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. And you can help make this a reality.

How? You can demand governments, businesses and health care providers do more to save these precious lives. You can donate to UNICEF and other organizations around the world working to make a difference for mothers and babies in need. In doing so, you become part of this narrative -- making sure that one day, who you are or where you are from does not decide whether your baby gets to live or to die.

Serena Williams is 36, and gave birth in September. Just a few months after this frightening event, she participated in the World Championships in late December. Earlier this month, she played doubles in the Fed Cup in Asheville, NC.

Head over to CNN for her full opinion piece. It is quite powerful.