Tennis megastar Serena Williams announced last week that she was 20 weeks pregnant and would not return to action in 2017. The 23-time Grand Slam winner’s announcement was both disappointing for tennis fans yet amazingly incredible as the timetable of Williams’ pregnancy proved that the 35-year-old won her recent title at the Australian Open while in the early stages of her pregnancy.

It is a feat that will likely never be topped. After dominating the women’s circuit for years, Williams – who’s currently engaged – appears to be entering a pivotal stage in both her life and career. Concerns about her age already persisted despite Williams’ continued dominance over the years. And, recovering from childbirth coupled with the limitations of age would be a challenging obstacle for even the best of athletes. Will Williams return to superior form or will her new blossoming family life become her new passion? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debate this interesting question.

AFRO Sports Desk Faceoff

Riley: There isn’t anything left to prove for Williams. She’s dominated women’s tennis so heavily over the years that she’s overtaken regular male athletes in different sports in terms of popularity and perhaps even ability. She’s a flat-out fantastic athlete and not just a fantastic female athlete, and she gets well-earned recognition for that. She’s given 35 years to training and close to two decades of blue chip play in her sport. She’s earned the right to sit back and focus on her family. Her publicists say she expects to return in 2018 but the odds will definitely be against her returning to form a year older after giving birth.

Green: If Serena says she’s coming back, she’s coming back. And I wouldn’t dare bet against her, especially after this latest accomplishment.  Keep in mind: Williams is one Grand Slam single title away from having the all-time record and she’ll sit back reading all the press clippings like this one questioning if she can return. Williams is a once-in-a-generation type of megastar who has routinely dominated every aspect of tennis since she first picked up a racket. Several female tennis players have come back from childbirth and performed at high levels so it’s not out the realm of possibility. Williams’ unique and muscular body type has withstood the test of time and she’ll respond well after pregnancy.

Riley: Those “several female tennis players” who returned to form were also a lot younger than Williams and hadn’t played nearly as long as Williams have. My question isn’t so much can she return to form but will she want to? Her career is nearly as decorated as any major athlete in sports history and she’s accomplished every goal you can imagine. If becoming the all-time Grand Slam singles winner or accomplishing anything more in her tennis career was the main focus right now for Williams then we might not be having this debate. We’ll support Williams whatever decision she makes but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see tennis go on the back burner for Williams as she evolves in her personal life.

Green: I admit that time is winding down in Williams’ career but dominance has come so easy for her in previous years that maybe it’s time for an against-all-odds type of comeback. It would be another crowning moment in her career, and going out on top with the record would be a storybook ending for her. She’s already the greatest pro athlete ever in my eyes. That may sound crazy to some of you, but hey, Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali never had to perform while pregnant. That tops everything. But I have a feeling, coming back and dominating after giving birth will take the cake.

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