Tennis star Serena Williams is pregnant and, based on the timeline she offered, she already was when she won the Australian Open.
A spokeswoman for Williams, Kelly Bush Novak, wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday: ‘‘I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall.’’
Earlier in the day, Williams posted a photo of herself on Snapchat with the caption ‘‘20 weeks,’’ sparking all sorts of speculation on social media about whether she was, indeed, with child. The 35-year-old Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in January — a little less than 12 weeks ago.
She has not competed since, citing a knee injury when withdrawing from tournaments at Indian Wells, California, and Key Biscayne, Florida. She announced in late December that she was engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Williams would appear to be out for the rest of this tennis season, a blow to a sport in which she is the biggest star and something that makes major titles easier to come by for other competitors. The next major tournament is the French Open, which starts on May 28. Wimbledon begins in early July, and the U.S. Open in late August.
There is recent precedent for tennis players to return to action after becoming a mother. Kim Clijsters retired briefly to start a family, then came back to action and won Grand Slam titles. Another former No. 1 and major champion, Victoria Azarenka, has announced she’ll be getting back on tour soon after having a baby.
Williams’ 23 Grand Slam singles titles are a record for the Open era, which began in 1968 — she broke a tie with Steffi Graf in Australia. Only one woman has won more: Margaret Smith Court, who claimed part of her 24 during the amateur era.