Serena Williams Details Her Struggle With 'Debilitating' Migraines

Serena Williams is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, but there were times where she had to play through severe headaches. Williams recently sat down with PEOPLE and revealed she has been dealing with "debilitating migraines." She said she started experiencing the migraines in her 20s while she was practicing.

"Migraine isn't a knee injury — it's something you can't physically see," Williams said. "You can't really say, 'Oh, Dad, I have a migraine. I'm going to stop playing. 'People are like, 'I don't see swelling. I don't see bruising. Tough it out.' I got used to playing through the pain." Williams also mentioned that when she lost to Martina Hingis in a 2001 match in Sydney, she revealed she had a migraine. However, she never admitted to migraines being the cause of her losing games.

For the most part, Williams has been able to deal with the migraines because they have not been persistent. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, she said her migraine attacks seemed to happen daily. "I was dealing with a lot of stress and unknown factors and things that I wasn't used to, and so I think that was contributing to my migraine attacks and making them more frequent," Williams said.

This led to Williams going to the doctor who prescribed here with Ubrelvy, a drug that can relieve pain during a migraine attack. It worked so well that she has even signed on as a spokeswoman. "As a respected athlete, entrepreneur, and mother who pushed boundaries time and again, Serena is the perfect fit to help us raise awareness within the migraine community as she navigates life with migraine alongside a very busy lifestyle," Aimee Lenar, VP of marketing for AbbVie's U.S. central nervous system business, said in a press release.


As Williams manages her migraines, she is getting ready for the U.S. Open, which will begin Aug. 31. Back in June, Williams announced she is playing in the first major tennis tournament since the pandemic began. Williams has won 23 grand slam titles in her career, including six U.S. Open championships.

"I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the US Open 2020," Williams said via ESPN. "I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. It's going to be exciting."