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Serena Williams sees Wimbledon journey through lens of motherhood

Serena Williams sees Wimbledon journey through lens of motherhood

We interrupt our World Cup obsession to talk about another early morning Europe-based event.

Serena Williams, reasserting herself as the GOAT of women’s tennis.

Williams has reached Thursday’s semifinal at Wimbledon. At age 36. Ten months after having her daughter Alexis Olympia. After having a life-threatening delivery.

We’re so used to seeing Williams dominate, that we might be taking this for granted. After all, she has won Wimbledon seven times and has 23 Grand Slam titles. With one more, she would tie Margaret Court’s record for Grand Slam singles titles.

But we should savor what we’re watching. For one thing, she is a 36-year old legend, so by definition, she is in — or heading toward — the twilight of her career. And with Williams, we are also watching a new fascinating phase.

Williams hasn’t just changed because she gave birth last September. She’s transformed by being a mother. She wept when she took little Olympia out to Centre Court and told her her mother’s amazing story. She has talked openly to the press about breast feeding. About the struggle to lose weight. About the joy and pain and complications of trying to figure out this new tightrope she is walking.

“She took her first steps … I was training and I missed it. I cried,” Williams tweeted out this week.

Williams, one of the strongest, most powerful athletes of our era, is showing the vulnerability that comes with motherhood. Both an emotional and physical vulnerability.

As well as the enhanced pleasures in life.

“When I’m too anxious, I lose matches and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born,” she told Vogue. “Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match. I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don’t need them. That’s a different feeling for me.”

Reaching the Wimbledon semifinal is not a different feeling. But this journey has been.

“Everything right now is a little bit of a surprise,” she said. “Being a mom is totally different … Every day it’s different for me.”

She won the Australian Open in 2017 while pregnant. She returned to competition in March, but had to withdraw from the French Open with an arm injury. Now in just her fourth tournament since her return, she’s back to where we’re used to seeing her.

But completely transformed.

Ann Killion is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: akillion@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @annkillion