“You Aren’t Afraid of Rats”: When Alexis Ohanian Revealed First Meeting with Serena Williams

Published 01/07/2021, 4:01 AM EST
Alexis Olympia, daughter of Serena Williams and husband Alexis Ohanian congratulate Serena Williams after she won her final match against Jessica Pegula of USA at ASB Tennis Centre on January 12, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)


How did Serena Williams finally find her match and how did events unfold before the twain said ‘Love All’, or rather, ‘We Do’?

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Serena fans will well be aware of the details wafting out of the Willams grapevine and will know by now where and how the 23-time Grand Slam winner met her husband Alexis Ohanian and how their love bloomed.

Alexis Ohanian recalls how he met Serena on Stephen Colbert’s talk show

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For the unaware, there’s a video on YouTube of Ohanian – the millionaire investor and a co-founder of social news website Reddit – baring his heart, to celebrity talk show host Stephen Colbert.

After showing a picture of their daughter Alexis Olympia and a framed shot of the celebrity couple posing on the red carpet, which drew lusty cheers from the show’s audience, Colbert asked, “How did a self-described unequivocal nerd end up with one of the greatest athletes in recorded history?”

“How does that come about? It’s not a natural match? I could have won a lot of money if I had bet on this. The odds were pretty good,” Colbert added, for good measure.

With a shy smirk playing on his face, the Reddit co-founder said, “Don’t ever tell me the odds, Stephen. I would beg to differ on one hand because she’s actually a total nerd. Indeed.”

Ohanian reveals he met Serena Williams at a Rome hotel

On how the couple came to meet, Ohanian revealed, “We actually met through just random circumstance. I happened to be at a conference in Rome (and) she was playing a tournament there. I had a little too much to drink the night before, as is the thing with red wine, flows nicely and neatly, and I overslept and missed breakfast. And I’m a fiend for coffee and the nice folks at the hotel said ‘if you really need some coffee, just go sit outside’. I just grabbed a table and opened my laptop and then this Australian guy, (who) turned out to be her assistant, says, ‘Hey mate, there’s a rat near your table, you should move’.”

Speaking about how his future wife entered the conversation, Ohanian said, “I told him, ‘thank you, but I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time, it’s really not a big deal. I later learned that they were planning to get rid of me. They’re planning to use the table for the rest of the team. But Serena turned around and was like, ‘You aren’t afraid of rats?”  I said no. She asked if I was there at the tech conference. I said yes. She asked who I was there to see speak, and I said, ‘I was speaking’. And then she asked what I did.” 

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And then? One thing led to another and before long, the two became man and wife.

In further evidence that the courtship led to a blissful matrimonial life, Ohanian recently posted adorable pictures with his daughter and the seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

990 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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