August 31, 2019
Serena Williams had a spectacular outing at the US Open on Monday, but it was her husband Alexis Ohanian that stole the show with what looked like a trolling attempt at her opponent and longtime nemesis Maria Sharapova.
Williams and Sharapova’s feuding timeline stretches far, but when both players met for the 22nd time in Monday’s opening round, Ohanian, 36, was entirely on board.
According to Yahoo Sports, the tech mogul was in the stands as his wife clinched a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Sharapova in 59 minutes of play.
When he arrived, Ohanian had on an unceremonious black jacket, but things got extra shady toward the end of the match when he unbuttoned to reveal a D.A.R.E shirt.
For those who don’t know, D.A.R.E, an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is a “War on Drugs” campaign aimed at discouraging and preventing the use of controlled drugs among young people.
It’s hard to believe that Ohanian’s outfit choice was not a dig at Sharapova, who in 2016 received a two-year professional tennis ban after testing positive for meldonium, a performance-enhancing substance.
For the most part, Ohanian got a lot of praise for his trolling, with many social media users hailing him for supporting Williams, 37.
“Alexis Ohanian showing up to the match between Serena & Maria Sharapova in a D.A.R.E t shirt is the type of solidarity in pettiness I need from my partner,” a Twitter user raved.
“I’d like to report a murder,” another joked with a laughing emoji.
The infamous feud between Williams and Sharapova, 32, is more off-court drama than on. While some have described the situation between both women as a “rivalry,” the facts imply otherwise.
In the 22 times that Williams and Sharapova have now played each other, the Russian has emerged victorious only twice and not since 2004. Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, is also light years away from her Russian counterpart, who has five Grand Slams.
The feud emanates instead from snide back-and-forth comments, Sharapova’s perceived racism, and the longtime controversy over the Russian’s endorsement wealth that outpaced Williams’ for years.
In her 2017 memoir, Sharapova reportedly used racist stereotypes – and probably a hint of body-shaming – to describe Williams.
According to MadameNoire, Sharapova wrote:
“First of all, her physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realize watching TV. She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong. And tall, really tall.”
Considering that Williams is five inches shorter than Sharapova, the latter’s position does not exactly make sense. Worse still, she claimed in her book: “I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon.”
Per Yahoo Sports, Sharapova also wrote of the time she found Williams sobbing in the locker room and how it reportedly angered the former world No. 1.
“Mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. Not long after the tournament, I heard Serena told a friend – who then told me – ‘I will never lose to that little [expletive] again.’”
Responding to the book, Williams, who recently had to withdraw from the Rogers Cup over injuries, reportedly described it as “100 percent hearsay” and “a little bit disappointing.”
Probably being diplomatic, or maybe because she really has moved on, Williams had only kind words about Sharapova following her opening-round win at the US Open on Monday.
“She’s such a good player,” Williams reportedly told ESPN. “When you play her, you have to be super focused. So every time I come up against her, I just bring out some of my best tennis.”
Ohanian however? That’s a whole different ball game.