*Serena Williams will be on maternity leave for the rest of 2017 after confirming Thursday that she is indeed pregnant with her first child.
The 23-time major champion broke the news Wednesday in a Snapchat of her baby bump that was deleted moments later. The caption stated she was 20 weeks along.
Today, her spokeswoman Kelly Bush Novak said she had no information about Williams’s social-media accounts or why the image had been deleted, but confirmed in an email sent to media outlets Wednesday: “I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall.”
She also stressed that the mom-to-be intends to return for the 2018 season.
“Serena said that I should make sure if anyone asks that that is clear,” Bush Novak told the New York Times in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Williams, 35, is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, 33. The pair have been dating since October 2015, and he popped the question last December during a vacation to Italy.
The baby will perhaps be the only one in history to come out of the womb with an Australian Open title; Williams beat her sister Venus for the title in January, when she was a few weeks pregnant.
Williams did not lose a set as she swept to her seventh singles title at the Australian Open, defeating her older sister Venus Williams in straight sets. It is unclear whether Serena Williams knew she was pregnant during that tournament.
“It does make what she did in Melbourne even more spectacular,” Pam Shriver told the Times. “But having been pregnant a couple times, including with twins, if you’re going to win a major when pregnant, guess what the right time to do it is? The first two months.”
Williams has not played a tournament since that victory. She missed events in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami in March, citing knee problems.
“We’re excited for Serena,” WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement. “This is wonderful news and we wish her the very best. We’ll look forward to seeing her when she’s back competing again.”