Tennis superstar Serena Williams is opening up about her years-long struggle with "debilitating" migraines.
In an interview with People, published Tuesday, the professional athlete revealed she's dealt with periodic migraine attacks since her 20s and powered through "so many" tennis matches while suffering from the "debilitating, throbbing pain."
Williams, 38, said it was difficult to hide the pain from her dad, Richard, who was her coach until 2012.
"Migraine isn't a knee injury -- it's something you can't physically see," she explained. "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."
The four-time Olympic gold medalist explained that she had to "work through" many games while suffering migraine attacks -- including her 2001 loss to Martina Hingis -- but didn't reveal to anyone she had faced the pain.
"You can't go into a press conference with the media asking, 'Well, what happened?' and say 'Well I had a migraine attack,'" Williams said. "I had to figure out a way to work through it."
While she was able to manage her migraine attacks because they were infrequent, Williams revealed she's suffered from them almost daily while quarantining at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's all incredibly stressful," she said of the global health crisis. "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."
"I would be so intense with the baby all day long, and then, at night, I would have this long migraine," Williams added of her 2-year-old daughter, Olympia, who she shares with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Fortunately, the tennis pro -- who is currently prepping for the US Open in NYC, which will have no crowd -- found a treatment that helped alleviate her pain.
"I've always played with such a big crowd," Williams said of the upcoming competition. "Without fans, how will I do? I don't even know. But I look at it as another experience. A wild experience."
In addition to migraines, Williams, who has a history of blood clots, has played through several shoulder and knee injuries as well as pregnancy. The tennis champion even won the 2017 Australian Open while 9 weeks pregnant with her daughter, Olympia, now 2.
However, Olympia's birth in September 2017 created a life-threatening health emergency for Williams.
Speaking to Vogue in January 2018, Williams revealed she had a pulmonary embolism after delivering Olympian through emergency C-section. Her severe cough had opened her C-section incision and in surgery, the doctors found a large hematoma in her abdomen. A filter was then inserted into a major vein. Though she was cleared to return home to recover, she was unable to get out of bed for six weeks.