Loughborough University
Thompson and Skey Serena Editor Version_AC.pdf (240.51 kB)
Download file

#ThisMama: the professional athlete, pregnancy and motherhood – the case of Serena Williams

Download (240.51 kB)
posted on 2020-11-17, 11:04 authored by Hannah ThompsonHannah Thompson, Michael SkeyMichael Skey

This chapter shows how professional athlete-motherhood is presented by the mainstream media and challenged by self-representation on social media, using arguably one of the most successful professional athletes of all time, Serena Williams, as a case study. We suggest that Williams' use of social media has allowed motherhood to be a part of her entrepreneurial self, accessing sponsorship and endorsements while also normalising struggles and using her platform to raise awareness of what it means to be a ‘working mother’. In comparison, mainstream media presents athlete-motherhood as either the athlete-mother as a transgressor or as the ‘super mum’, a theme where the athlete manages the demands of motherhood with sport and does it all ‘perfectly’. While mainstream media may present these two tensions and speculate on what women's bodies should be able to do, Williams reminds us through her social media that her professional status does not disappear, she is not ‘coming back’ from becoming a mother, it's a part of who she is, thus, showing that motherhood can be part of being a professional athlete and can be celebrated via online self-presentations. We conclude with a call for future work to explore the understanding of the pregnant athlete beyond a case study of a global celebrity athlete to look at the experiences of athlete-mother at other levels of sport and society.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Communication and Media

Published in

The Professionalisation of Women’s Sport: Issues and Debates


141 - 156


Emerald Publishing Limited


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Emerald Publishing Limited

Publisher statement

This book chapter was accepted for publication in the book The Professionalisation of Women’s Sport: Issues and Debates and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80043-196-620211009. This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com

Publication date


Copyright date



9781800431973; 9781800431966

Book series

Emerald Studies In Sport And Gender


  • en


Ali Bowes; Alex Culvin


Dr Michael Skey. Deposit date: 13 November 2020

Usage metrics

    Loughborough Publications


    No categories selected