Why Serena Williams isn't celebrating her daughter's first birthday

Why Serena Williams isn't celebrating her daughter's first birthday
Why Serena Williams isn't celebrating her daughter's first birthday 

While Serena Williams' daughter Olympia turned one over the weekend, her proud parents marked the occasion quietly, with no pink balloons in sight.

And, as it turns out, the lack of birthday fanfare is all down to her superstar mama's religious beliefs.

"Is there a birthday party planned?', Williams was asked by a reporter at the US Open recently.

"Olympia doesn't celebrate birthdays," the 36-year-old responded. "We're Jehovah's Witnesses, so we don't do that."

According to the official Jehovah's Witness site, while the Bible doesn't specifically forbid celebrating birthdays, Witnesses elect not to because they believe doing so "displeases God". 

"Like all good parents, Witnesses express love to their children throughout the year, including giving them gifts and having enjoyable gatherings," the site reads. "They try to follow the perfect example of God, who spontaneously gives good things to his children."

Dad, Alexis Ohanian commemorated the milestone by posting a photo of his daughter, whom he called "my adventure princess" to Instagram. "One year ago today, you changed our lives forever," the Reddit co-founder wrote.​

When an Instagram follower commented that it was sad Olympia wouldn't be having a first birthday party, Ohanian explained: "I'm not a Witness, but I considered how made up it all is: the purpose of celebrating a birthday is to celebrate life with the people who love you (and to eat cake). This baby is loved and will get to celebrate life with people who love her *plenty* of times, with plenty of parties (and eat cake — in moderation) throughout her life."

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In an interview with Vogue last year, Williams opened up about her beliefs noting that her husband was "receptive" to her faith.

"Being a Jehovah's Witness is important to me, but I've never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it," she said at the time. "Alexis didn't grow up going to any church, but he's really receptive and even takes the lead. He puts my needs first."

Williams also admitted to having been counselled by an "elder" Witness following an on-court outburst in 2009. "They just talk to you," she told the New York Times. "They show you Scriptures ... It's almost like a reprimand, but it's not bad, because in the Bible it says God loves you, and if someone reprimands you, they love you.

Since welcoming her baby girl, Williams has shared details about her traumatic birth, her experience of postnatal depression and her sadness around missing Olympia's first steps while working.

In a recent post, she urged other mamas to support one another through the "highs, lows, laughs and tears", after a stressful flight with her little one.

"Kids humble us," she said.