Inside Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian's Love Story

Aby Rivas
Jul 06, 2019
11:39 A.M.
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Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian have become one of the most powerful couples in the sports and entertainment industry. Together, they have faced many ups and downs in the last couple of years, making their bond stronger than ever. Here’s a look at their love story.


The past two years have been a whirlwind for tennis champion Serena Williams and tech guru Alexis Ohanian: they got engaged, welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia, got married, and faced many wins and losses in their respective careers.


However, they have been together through the good and the bad, and now as parents, the pair has been working hard to raise their child as strong, independent, and kind.

But there was a time when Serena knew nothing about Reddit—Ohanian’s creation—and in return, Alexis was clueless about tennis, and had only a vague idea about who Serena the “GOAT” Williams was.


In May 2015, Serena was staying with her crew at the Cavalieri hotel, in Rome, where she was about to play the Italian Open.


The day of her first match, Serena, who’s usually not a morning person as she told Vanity Fair, decided to try out the breakfast buffet at the hotel but arrived a bit too late. Instead, she and her group sat by the pool to order some breakfast, and more people from the team were expected to joining them.

Ohanian was staying at the same hotel. He was in Rome to speak at the Festival of Media Global conference, and like Williams and her group, he was looking forward to some breakfast. So, he didn’t think twice when he occupied the table next to Serena’s group.


"Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match. I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige."


“This big guy comes, and he just plops down at the table next to us, and I’m like, ‘Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?’ ” Serena recalled of the moment, feeling annoyed at first sight.

Her group tried to get Alexis to move by telling him there was a rat near his table, but the Reddit co-founder was unfazed. “I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time,” he told them.

They ended up inviting Alexis to sit with them, and by extension, Ohanian attended Serena’s match later that day. She won.



Later that month, Serena invited Alexis to watch her play at the French Open, and he accepted the invitation without having big expectations about their encounter.

Ohanian was already fantasizing about what a great story it would be for his friends: “I was supposed to meet up with Serena Williams, she blew me off, but I’ve got other friends there, and we had a great time,’” he was thinking at the time.


Alexis proposed at the same table by the pool where they met. There were rose petals scatted around, and a plastic rat at the table when he got down on one knee.


They met before the start of the tournament, walked around Paris for six hours, and Alexis even bought some candles for an overly excited Serena at a street stall.

Ohanian knew that Williams probably had never experience walking around the city like a proper tourist. She was used to a controlled situation with glamour and celebrity friends and a business-like ambiance.

To say that sparks flew is an understatement.


However, Williams kept the relationship out of the public’s eye for almost a year. Although Alexis became a constant presence at her matches and openly showed her his support on social media.


By April 2016, Alexis Ohanian was convinced he wanted Serena to be his wife.

He was celebrating his birthday at a restaurant with his grandparents when Serena FaceTimed him to wish him a happy birthday.


The gesture might seem like a simple one, but Serena is a Jehovah’s Witness, and they don’t celebrate birthdays.

“I felt like a door had been opened to a person who made me want to be my best self. I find myself just wanting to be better by simply being around her because of the standard she holds,” Ohanian said of his thoughts at the time.

It was in November 2016 that Serena made their relationship Instagram-official when she shared a pic of their Halloween bear-themed costumes.



Ohanian planned the perfect romantic proposal: he would ask Serena to be his wife at the same spot where they first met.

He had arranged the perfect schedule: Serena would make a stop in Rome on her way back home from an exhibition in India in December. But then, the show was canceled, and Serena didn’t have a reason to fly to Rome when she had the training to do for the Australian Open.


Once he arrived, Williams handed him a bag with six positive pregnancy tests.


In the end, Ohanian had Williams fly under the pretense of a spontaneous trip, and although she was livid for the interruption, Serena also knew what was coming.

Alexis proposed at the same table by the pool where they met. There were rose petals scatted around, and a plastic rat at the table when he got down on one knee. She said yes.


Williams shared the big news with the world with her first post on Reddit, accompanied by an illustration of her and Alexis that read “future Mrs. Kn0thing" (Kn0thing is Ohanian's Reddit username).


Serena found she was pregnant in January 2017, in the middle of her schedule to play on the Australian Open.

She called Ohanian and told him he needed to fly to Melbourne before they had planned. He rushed there afraid it was something related to her health.


Once he arrived, Williams handed him a bag with six positive pregnancy tests.

After a doctor assured them there were no risks in playing, Serena went on to win the tournament being eight weeks pregnant.


Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. came to the world on September 1, 2017.


Serena had some post-partum complications that put her life at risk and was bed-ridden for almost two months after welcoming her daughter.

Being a mom, Serena has expressed on several occasions, gave her a new purpose in life.

"I think having a baby might help. When I’m too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born," she told Vogue.


And added:

"Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match. I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don’t need them. That’s a different feeling for me.


Serena and Alexis tied the knot in a "Beauty and the Beast" inspired wedding at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans on November of that same year.



Alexis has become Serena’s biggest cheerleader, and for him, the secret to a steady relationship relies on being supportive of the other.

“I will always try to show my wife how much I appreciate and support her. As an entrepreneur, one of my big mantras is to surprise and delight," he told Glamour. "I try to be the most supportive partner I can be and to have conversations with her about her career goals and what she can do to reach them."

Although he’s successful in his own accord, Ohanian doesn’t shy away from admitting that Serena’s career is a priority in their lives, and Serena agrees with the sentiment.

“Alexis doesn’t dim my light. He doesn’t try to dim my light," she explained to Allure. "He puts me in the light, even if I don’t want to be. He pushes me to further points I never thought about."

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