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Baroness Benjamin hails ‘phenomenal’ Serena Williams on post-baby comeback

The peer said that motherhood should be no hindrance to pursuing a career.

Motherhood should not be a hindrance to women pursuing careers, a House of Lords peer has said, as she congratulated Serena Williams on her tennis comeback.

Baroness Benjamin, better known as actress Floella Benjamin, spoke out in support of the tennis superstar when she attended Wimbledon on Tuesday.

The 68-year-old said the American, who has a nine-month-old daughter, had done a phenomenal job.

Baroness Benjamin said: “Serena is phenomenal as a woman, coming back after everything she has been through and having a baby.

“I was the first woman to appear fully pregnant on TV and it made headlines – that was in 1981, and I got the BBC to change their attitude. I used to take my child to work with me.

“Good on her (Serena). A lot of women give up having children because they think they have to to put their career first.

“I am very much with her and support her in every way. All women should be supporting Serena. They don’t have to give up their career.”

It comes after Williams revealed her guilt at having to leave Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr to play matches.

On Monday she said she did not like being away from her daughter and tried to spend as much time as possible with her.

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Serena Williams celebrates her win against Arantxa Rus (Nigel French/PA)

She said: “I really don’t like being away from her. I also think it’s healthy in a way for me to do what I need to do, be that working mom, then go back home and be the mom.”

The 36-year-old added: “I realised, like, at Roland Garros, if the days were long, like I was playing singles and doubles there, that was hard because I felt guilty.

“I was like, I haven’t seen Olympia, like what am I doing? If it’s the shorter days, now that I’m not playing doubles in this event, I have the day off, I think that will help.”

Victoria Azarenka, another mum on the tennis scene, has also been vocal about mothers’ rights on the tour.

The former world number one, who gave birth to her son Leo in 2016, said that while Serena was given a seeding this year, she was not afforded the same luxury after taking time off to have a baby.

However, she welcomed the progression made on the tour, saying she was “proud” about the conversations the player council had been having.

She said in a post-match conference on Monday: “I think it’s an important conversation that has been started.

“This conversation has led to numerous meetings, numerous occasions where we are discussing the rules and how can we be a leader in sports to have the best maternity policy for not – I don’t think just women – but I think all sports. And that conversation is ongoing.

“It happened, you know, a couple days ago we had a big meeting, and I feel like we are moving in a really good direction.”

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