Tennis superstar Serena Williams on Friday gave birth to a baby girl, US media reported, prompting an outpouring of delight from fellow professionals, celebrities and fans of the sporting icon.
Williams, who will is to 36 later this month, was on Wednesday admitted to the St Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, before going into labor overnight.
There was no immediate confirmation of the birth from Williams’ representatives.
Elder sister Venus described herself as “super excited” after being informed of the reports concerning the baby as she walked onto the court for her third-round match at the US Open in New York.
However, she declined to take questions on the subject in her post-match news conference.
Earlier, a producer with Florida-based TV station WPBF cited hospital sources as saying Williams’ daughter weighed in at 3.09kg.
Celebrity magazine US Weekly cited an unnamed source close to the tennis star confirming the birth.
Williams, who is engaged to Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, was swiftly greeted with an avalanche of congratulations from well-wishers.
“Congrats Serena!!! So much joy for you!!!” Spanish star Rafael Nadal wrote on Twitter.
Pop diva Beyonce took to Instagram to send her message, posting a portrait of a pregnant Williams in a flowing white gown with the message: “Congratulations Serena!”
“Congratulations @SerenaWilliams for your baby girl. I am so happy for you and I feel your emotion. Recover well & enjoy without limitation,” Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said on Twitter
“I’m so thrilled for her. And what a role model she’s going to be for her daughter,” US tennis legend Chris Evert said on Twitter.
Media reports said labor was induced overnight on Thursday for 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Williams, who revealed she was pregnant in April.
Some fans wasted no time in anointing the tennis star’s daughter as a future champion.
“Hello to the future queen of tennis,” one post on Twitter read.
“A future champion is born,” another added.
Those sentiments sparked light-hearted alarm for Spanish star Garbine Muguruza.
Told that Williams’ baby is a girl, Muguruza said: “Well, I hope she doesn’t play tennis.”
Williams has vowed to return to competitive tennis in January next year to defend her Australian Open title, which she won while newly pregnant.
Williams last month told Vogue magazine in a wide-ranging interview that she had set herself a goal of returning to play in Melbourne next year.
“It’s the most outrageous plan,” she said. “I just want to put that out there. That’s, like, three months after I give birth. I’m not walking anything back, but I’m just saying it’s pretty intense.”
Mouratoglou on Friday Joked that he expected to hold the tennis star to her word.
“Btw @serenawilliams I wish you a speedy recovery... we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Mouratoglou said on Twitter.
Williams also revealed in her Vogue interview that she had long suspected she would give birth to a girl.
“Two weeks after we found out [about the pregnancy], I played the Australian Open. I told Alexis it has to be a girl, because there I was playing in 100°[F (37.8°C)] weather, and that baby never gave me any trouble. Ride or die. Women are tough that way,” Williams told the magazine.
A separate article in Vanity Fair in June said Williams, who unveiled her pregnant body in a nude cover photo for the magazine, planned to tie the knot with Ohanian later this year after the birth.
The couple announced their engagement in December last year after meeting in Rome in 2015.
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