Serena Williams Speaks Out About Her Near-Death Medical Scare

"I could have died," the tennis star says about the hematoma for which she underwent surgery

Serena Williams is opening up about the emergency surgery she had to undergo recently for a frightening medical condition. The morning after the 29-year-old tennis champ attended Elton John's AIDS Foundation Oscars party on Feb. 27, she was hospitalized for a hematoma (a pocket of blood that forms under the skin because of internal bleeding) that resulted from a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs). And yes, Williams tells People, it was as scary as it sounds.

"I could have died," Williams says in this week's issue of the magazine.

While her first reaction was denial -- "This can't be happening to me," she remembers thinking -- Williams quickly started thinking the worst.

"I started panicking," she recalls. "I thought (the hematoma was) a tumor."

Thankfully, the hematoma was successfully removed by the doctors at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai hospital, and the world's No. 11 tennis player will be free to return to her game soon (after finishing her regime of blood thinner medication).

"I like having a challenge," says Williams. "And this will be my biggest challenge yet."

No doubt she's up for it. We're glad to see that Williams' reputation for clobbering opponents applies to life-threatening conditions, too!

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