Serena Williams says her pulmonary embolism was "the scariest moment" of her life.
The tennis star broke her silence on her recent medical scare on Wednesday's edition of NBC's "Today" show. Appearing on satellite from Los Angeles, Williams told Matt Lauer how a shortness of breath and massive swelling in her legs forced her to the emergency room two weeks ago. "I couldn't breathe," she said.
Scans of Williams' legs revealed no additional clots and doctors were confident that those in her lungs were impacted and wouldn't cause any further damage. The 13-time Grand Slam champion said she was placed on an injectable blood thinner. Doctors say the foot injury which had sidelined Serena since July could have played a part in the development of the clots. Her time in a walking boot and all the house hours she spent immobile on airplanes are dangerous cocktails for developing DVTs.
When asked why she decided to attend the Academy Awards six days after the incident, Serena said it was like a form of stress relief. "I had been through so much in the past eight months and it had been so hard to work with. I was really low on energy, but I was like, 'I gotta do something to get my spirits up.'"
One day after that, Williams had a procedure to remove a hematoma from her stomach. For the first time, she explained how that developed. The blood thinner shots (likely Lovenox) are administered into the fatty part of the stomach. They often leave large bruises and lead to swelling. Serena's bruise grew into the size of a grapefruit and needed to be drained in an emergency procedure.
She told Lauer that she hasn't really left the house recently, which runs contrary to a confirmed Deadspin report that Serena spoke at a conference in Las Vegas two days after her second hospitalization. The best news is that doctors tell her that her lungs are "fairly healthy" and she's "on the road to recovery."
As for her return to the court? "My career won't be affected," she said. "I am hoping to return this summer."
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- Serena Williams
- Matt Lauer