Four years ago, when her feet hit the sand for her third gold medal beach volleyball match in London, Kerri Walsh Jennings knew she was pregnant. She and her long-time teammate Misty May-Treanor battled to gold anyway, defeating another American duo in the final.
In Rio, Brazil, Walsh Jennings returned with new teammate April Ross (one-half of the 2012 silver-medal pair that Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor bested in London).
She says that her inspiration is her family, at home watching and waiting for her to come home with gold:
"Before I had more kids, I was like, this feels trivial. I'd been playing for so long, and I was like I need balance. All my eggs are in this one basket and it's very self-centered and self-focused.
They gave me that perspective and balance I thought I was missing. It took my game and my desire and my passion for life to the next level. I am hugely indebted to my children."
And in a pre-game interview with NBC, Walsh Jennings doubled down, saying that family wasn't just her support system — it was a reason for living in itself:
She also added the following comment that struck a few nerves:
“I feel like I was born to have babies and play volleyball.”
There were those who took issue with her comments — and with NBC for running them:
But most just found it impressive that Walsh Jennings was able to perform at such a high level while pregnant in the first place:
And a few thought her comment just proved she was as tough as nails:
Walsh Jennings and Ross won their first match against Australia straight sets on Saturday night.
Walsh Jennings says she's not finished - with her career or her family: “I'd love to win a fourth gold medal. I'd love to have a fourth baby.”