After missing the 2017 U.S. Open to give birth to her first child, Serena Williams is ready to return to the court next week — as a working mom.
"I never wanted to hang up my racket," Williams said in a "Today" show interview that aired Wednesday. "This is the beginning for a new career for me. It's just gonna keep going."
Williams announced in April 2017 that she and then-fiance Alexis Ohanian were pregnant and that she would sit out the rest of the tennis season. On Sept. 1, the fifth day of the 2017 U.S. Open, Williams gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
The tennis star has spent the past year with her new family, telling NBC's Stephanie Rhule that it's been "an amazing" time.
"I've always been this joyful person, but now it's totally different," Williams said of being a mom. "I feel just light. It's just a great feeling."
Williams recognizes that she's "really fortunate" to have taken time from work and spend it with her newborn, and she says she's "doing it for those women that can't."
"Being around her every day is super important," Williams said. "I want her to have just a great upbringing, the best way I know how."
When Williams returned to tennis this year, she looked to other working moms for support, like in July when she missed her daughter's first steps.
"So many parents wrote in and said, 'Don't worry about it. I missed it too,'" Williams recalled. "I didn't realize that it was almost more normal to miss it than to make it. So I really kind of rely on everyone's help out there."
Williams returned to Grand Slam tennis in May at the French Open but withdrew before the competition ended due to an injury. She entered Wimbledon in July but failed to claim her eighth title in the championship.
With 23 Grand Slam titles under her belt, Williams is going for her 24th at the U.S. Open, the chance to tie the all-time record.