1:24 pm - 03/10/2011

Serena Williams discusses health scare

Serena Williams talks about her pulmonary embolism and blood clots

Serena Williams still has blood clots in her lung but hopes to return to tennis this summer after recovering from a pulmonary embolism, which she called the "scariest moment in my life."

The 13-time Grand Slam champion spoke on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday from Los Angeles, saying she hasn't left her house much since going to the hospital nearly three weeks ago.“

"I had a lot of swelling in my leg, which really is a telltale sign of an embolism, and I could not breathe," Williams said.

She said doctors couldn't find anything in her leg and then ordered a CT scan of her lungs.

"That's when they found several blood clots," Williams said. "They told me that they had to check me in immediately or else ... it wasn't going to be a good result."

Treating the blood clots required Williams to inject herself with a blood thinner, she said. Feeling a need to get out, she didn't let her condition deter her from attending several Oscar parties.

"I had been through so much in the past eight months," she said. "Just really kind of low on energy, but I was like, 'I've got to do something, kind of just to get my spirits up.'"

Then she wound up back in the hospital on Feb. 28 because of a large hematoma on her stomach. The gathering of blood under the skin grew from a "golf ball" to the size of "a grapefruit."

"I apparently must've hit something," said Williams, who was injecting herself twice a day. "[The doctors said] 'We can't drain this, we have to surgically remove it.'"

Her absence from tennis could stretch to almost a year since she won the Wimbledon title last July. Williams has had two surgeries on her right foot since cutting it on glass at a restaurant shortly after Wimbledon.

Her comeback has been delayed repeatedly by complications from the injury. The second surgery was in late October, and she said she spent 10 weeks in a cast and 10 weeks in a walking boot.

On Wednesday night, Williams took to Twitter to reassure her fans: "Hey guys! I am better each day. I'm so in love with my fans and friends! My family too! I'm beyond blessed to have so much love around me! S"

Surgery is among the risk factors for blood clots, as are prolonged periods of inactivity and long airline flights.

Williams said she wasn't "moving and not doing as much as I normally do. I started flying a lot ... thinking I was OK. And obviously, I wasn't."

The 29-year-old Williams realizes it was a dangerous situation.

"Mine went from my leg to my lung and it traveled fast," Williams said. "I still have several clots in my lung. They're just there, and they have to eventually dissolve. So I'm just taking it one day at a time. Just on the road to recovery.

"I said I wanted to return this summer, and I was hoping to return way sooner than that. Being so close to ... the scariest moment in my life, I really just want to come back and be able to do well," she said. 


scary stuff, but glad she's doing better. putting on my ontd_doctors coat and telling you that march is DVT awareness month. stay healthy ontd and look out for you and your loved ones
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moulinette 10th-Mar-2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
I would be so scared to have something like that happen. Glad to hear that she is getting better.
dancedallnight 10th-Mar-2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
same here. i fly a lot, so i'm always paranoid about having a clot develop. i have to force myself to get up at least once during the flight
goooooblue 10th-Mar-2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
It happened to me about 6 years ago, several blood clots in my lungs. Mine was from being on the pill (they aren't joking in those commercials that some women can develop blood clots). It was horrible. I had to go to therapy for years after for panic attacks because I was so terrified that I would develop another clot and it would kill me.

/depressing story bro
dancedallnight 10th-Mar-2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
oh yikes. hope you're doing better bb
xstellargrl 10th-Mar-2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
That's why I don't think I could ever bring myself to get on the pill.

Too many possibilities.
lonelywizard 10th-Mar-2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
So sorry that is awful! I'm so scared of bc for this reason. A relative died from this.

My fiancee is sick of me not being on bc though so I think my only option would be a copper T? Or does that still run the risk of clots?
astronof 10th-Mar-2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
I love the name Serena.
dancedallnight 10th-Mar-2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
me too bb
treegrowth 10th-Mar-2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
jesus that's so scary :( i am glad she's getting a lil better
parisdiorchanel 10th-Mar-2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
That's so scary. I'm glad she's getting better.
theonlyone_05 10th-Mar-2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
Damn that sucks. Luckily she got help fast.

Also smoking and birth control pills can be a risk for DVT's(clots).
lonelywizard 10th-Mar-2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
This! I don't see how all these gals on the pill who smoke don't even care. It is a big risk factor, but yet it doesn't seem to phase anyone at all?
theonlyone_05 10th-Mar-2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
I know! its crazy.

And hell I'm even afraid to get on BC cause of the risk. /lame
must_go_faster 10th-Mar-2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
good to hear she got better, my (now deceased) father, my mother and I all have/had this problem
vonlisbon 10th-Mar-2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH that would horrify me. Alright, terminal cancer will take you quickly, but these are literally ticking time bombs. Any second one of them could just be like FTS I'MMA HEAD TO YOUR HEART/BRAIN and BAM!
nuclearcouture 10th-Mar-2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
That's a side effect of hormone therapy right?
lonelywizard 10th-Mar-2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
okmewriting 10th-Mar-2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
lol, I don't know but there's a reason that Tennis goes around saying it is the cleanest sport...
magli 10th-Mar-2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
I'm so scared when I hear about these kinda things happening to athletes. They are these superfit super people and I'm eating chocolate on a Thursday. :/
okmewriting 10th-Mar-2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
Why? When these things happen to athletes there is usually a chemical cause. Unless you're taking PED's I wouldn't worry about it.
yesand 10th-Mar-2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
My friends sister had something like that happen. She thought she had a sprain that kept getting worse. Eventually after a week and problems breathing she went to her family doctor. Who immediately told her they were calling an ambulance. And had she not come she would have been dead in 2 hours. :\
lonelywizard 10th-Mar-2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
When I heard this news I couldn't believe it. So glad she is doing better.

So are they saying the foot injury and what not led to this? I'm still unclear. My thoughts were that it didn't come out of no where, so I'm gathering that the root cause was the foot injury.
theonlyone_05 10th-Mar-2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Being immobile for long period of time is the most likely reason for developing a clot.

So being in a cast and recovering from (any) surgery is a huge risk.
lonelywizard 10th-Mar-2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
True, but I thought they always encouraged people to move for certain amounts of time per day to prevent it- and there meds to prevent it as well.
kaiserschmarrn 10th-Mar-2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Scary stuff. Even when I'm just sitting around, I'm always moving my legs to get the blood circulating.

But if you didn't have a surgery or an injury or sitting for 16h straight (like you do on some flights), the risks are not that high. Of course you can be genetically predisposed and things like taking the pill or smoking increase your risk of getting a thrombosis.
mollysmiles 10th-Mar-2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
glad she's getting better
look_after_u 10th-Mar-2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
Every time I see a Serena or Venus post I'm reminded of this epic 'Tampon vs. Pads' post:
dorkii_rawk 10th-Mar-2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
sad I missed that post.
londonshowers 10th-Mar-2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
omfg were these people paid to advertise diva cup?
some of them sound absolutely rabid
dancedallnight 10th-Mar-2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
ikr?! i can't believe we have stans for feminine hygiene products
lcacbc 10th-Mar-2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
Blood clots are worrying me tbh. I had a kidney infection a couple of weeks ago and had to go into hospital, and I've been pretty inactive since. I keep having pains in my legs, but they come and go. I'm really hoping that's not what it is. :/
goooooblue 10th-Mar-2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
Are you on any kind of hormonal birth control? If you are, go to the doctor just in case. You could be perfectly fine but trust me, you don't want to chance it.
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