For years, Serena Williams has been an advocate for mothers and children as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. But her life-threatening birth experience gave her fresh perspective on the challenges new mums and their babies face around the world.

“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia. Yet I consider myself fortunate,” Serena told CNN.

“While I had a pretty easy pregnancy, my daughter was born by emergency C-section after her heart rate dropped dramatically during contractions. The surgery went smoothly. Before I knew it, Olympia was in my arms. It was the most amazing feeling I've ever experienced in my life.

But this magical moment was followed by a series of medical complications Serena is lucky to have survived: a blood clot in her lungs, a split c-section wound and a hematoma in her abdomen.

“I am so grateful I had access to such an incredible medical team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment. They knew exactly how to handle this complicated turn of events.”

“If it weren't for professional care, I wouldn't be here today.”

Serena’s near death experience didn’t just make her grateful for the doctors and health staff who helped her survive - it gave her a powerful reminder of the struggles of mothers around the world who don’t have the same support.
“Women struggle to give birth in the
poorest countries. When they have
complications like mine, there are no drugs,
health facilities or doctors to save them.”
© Serena Williams on Instagram
Serena Williams and her baby daugher Serena Williams and her baby daugher
Serena Williams and her baby daugher

A Mother's Day present that can save lives

Here's a great way to show Mum just how much you appreciate her strength, perseverance and care: deliver a UNICEF Vaccine Pack in her honor. Each pack contains 80 polio vaccines, 80 measles vaccines and a vaccine carrier.

A UNICEF Vaccine Pack could help mothers around the world beat the odds and protect their children from killer diseases and early death. Buy one today.


As she recovered, Serena looked down at her newborn and reflected on the pain and grief of mothers who still lose their babies to preventable causes. Mothers like Mary in Malawi, who walked hours while she was in labour to reach the closest health centre. She made it in time to give birth, but lost her child later that day.

“I had a name for the child but he never opened his eyes and he never cried, so we kept the name to ourselves,” says Mary. “I felt like my heart was breaking."
“ I hope that one day I will be able to have a child of my own,” says Mary. © UNICEF/UN0147889

Serena: “A better world is possible”

The greatest tragedy of Mary’s story is that it was preventable. Her baby died because there weren’t enough doctors or nurses to save him. Every day, thousands of other children are killed by preventable causes. Because their mothers don’t have a safe place or skilled attendants during childbirth. Because there’s not enough medicine, clean water or vaccines for them to survive.

Serena’s experience has made her even more passionate about creating a better world. “Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. You can help make this a reality,” she says, by supporting a charity like UNICEF.

You can help make sure that one
day, where you are from does not
decide whether your baby gets to live.
On a trip to Ghana, Serena meets children UNICEF have helped protect from deadly but preventable diseases with measles vaccinations, polio drops and insecticide-treated bed nets. © UNICEF/UNI46033/Hickling

UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s organisation, uses simple solutions to stop babies dying every day. We provide vaccines for 45 per cent of the world’s children. We cross battlelines and climb mountains to reach children in the world’s most remote corners. We’re changing the story and helping more children survive and thrive into adulthood.


This Mother’s Day, help mums everywhere

In 2018, no mother has to lose her child to a preventable cause. UNICEF has a special Mother’s Day gift with a life-saving impact: a pack of vaccines to help mothers around the world keep their children safe from deadly disease.

This year, give Mum a gift with real impact - buy her a Mother’s Day present that vaccinates children in the world’s most remote and dangerous places.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Purchase a Mother's Day Vaccine Pack. Each one contains 80 polio vaccines, 80 measles vaccines and a vaccine carrier.
  2. We’ll send a personalised card to your mum telling her about the life-saving impact she’s making.
  3. Real vaccines will be dispatched from a UNICEF warehouse by car, boat or foot to wherever they're most needed.
There's no better way to show your mum how much you appreciate everything she's done to keep you safe and protected. Buy one instantly to make Mum’s day and forever change the lives of vulnerable children.