The minute Serena Williams announced that she was pregnant, various journalists dusted down their “is this the end of (famous sportswoman)’s career” articles.
This is annoying for a variety of reasons.
The first is that it really is always the same article, with just the name of the sportswoman and the sport changed.
The second is that, if Serena chooses to come back, it’s not the end of her career. Sportswomen can, do and have achieved after having children. For instance, Olympic silver in the heptathlon, generally regarded as the most physically demanding of the athletics disciplines. Or you know, being the Flying Housewife.
But I suppose they don’t play tennis. Like oh, Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open after giving birth, and she’s not the physical force that Serena is.
Those are sport or related reasons. The remainder of the reasons are more society based.
The social construct of “the perfect mother” appears to exist only to make all mothers feel bad. (Any mothers reading this, you are amazing.) The perfect mother, she does not and cannot exist.
More than that, the extreme self-sacrifice that this ridiculous construct demands, that a mother no longer has her own life outside that of the identity of mother isn’t safe or healthy for the mother, her children or any attendant partners.
Reporters and journalists are intelligent people and shouldn’t be buying into it or propagating it.
There’s also this weird idea that Serena (or any other woman) will be so overcome by the awesomeness of having a child that she will not be interested in pursuing her career. I don’t have children, but my mother would like to tell you that this is nonsense. I have her permission to quote her.
The interesting double standard is that it’s assumed that no man would be so distracted by having children that he’d want to stop his career. There’s no “will Murray stop playing tennis now that there’s a second mini Murray on the way?” articles. If kids are so all-consumingly awesome, you’d think both parents would be affected.
Every woman’s choice is different, and it is her choice.
I realise journalists have to fill up the column inches so how to earn their pay. Maybe next time though write about a British (change nationality as applicable) junior that’s doing good rather than digging out the old “is this the end of (famous sportswoman)’s career” article again.