Why Serena Williams Thought It Was 'Cool' That She 'Had a Stomach' After Delivering Her Daughter

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Serena Williams is proud of the way her physique changed not only in pregnancy or months after childbirth, but directly after her daughter arrived.

The tennis champion and mom to 16-month-old daughter Alexis Olympia opened up to Allure in her cover story for their February Body + Mind issue about how she was “feeling pretty good about body” — an opinion that didn’t stop after Olympia was born.

“After I came out , I had a stomach, but I thought, ‘This is kind of cool. I have a stomach because the baby was there,’ ” recalls Williams, 37.

Now, as far as her fitness is concerned, “I worked hard at it in the past eight months to get back from the baby,” she tells the magazine. “It hasn’t been easy. I’m not 21 anymore. But I did it slow and steady.”

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That appreciation for the incredible job her body did in delivering her first child plays perfectly into what the 23-time Grand Slam champion wants to teach her baby girl about strength.

“I want her to know that being strong is never easy. Not in this world we are living in. … Standing up for yourself is not going to be easy, but it’s always eventually respected,” Williams opines. “Those are the people who’ve made a difference in this world, people that stand up for what’s right.”

In terms of beauty, “When I tell she’s beautiful, I want to teach her that she’s beautiful from the inside,” explains the mother of one. “Giving is beauty. Being kind and humble is the ultimate beauty.”

RELATED VIDEO: Serena Williams Recalls Being “Devastated” by Emergency C-Section and Postpartum Problems

Despite the complications Williams faced after Olympia was born to her and husband Alexis Ohanian (who were married in New Orleans 11 weeks after welcoming their daughter), the athlete “loved being pregnant.”

“I loved everything about it,” she says, joking, “I was one of those weird people that loved being pregnant. Those annoying people.”

Allure’s Body + Mind issue is on national newsstands Jan. 22.

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