How Serena Williams rewrote the playbook for female athletes juggling motherhood and sport, and why we should all be doing the same
When Serena Williams’s husband, Alexis Ohanian – a tech innovator who founded Reddit and was a cofounder of Facebook – proposed that she give up tennis and focus on raising their daughter, Williams said yes
Serena Williams won the women’s singles at the Australian Open in January, becoming the first woman to win the trophy at the event since 1996. It was a moment that marked the start of a new chapter in the career of one of the greatest living female tennis players, and the culmination of an extraordinarily public love story involving the tennis world’s most recognizable, charismatic and polarizing figure – the most famous woman to ever marry a man who wasn’t a tennis star.
After Serena won the Australian Open, she took to Instagram and posted a photo of Alexis Ohanian, who was standing next to her with his arm around her shoulder – just weeks after he proposed during the final of the US Open.
Serena Williams in Melbourne win
Ohanian, 23, is an entrepreneur, internet personality and tech investor – and has become known as the most influential man in the tech industry since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1997.
While Ohanian initially didn’t reply to Williams’s Twitter message, he eventually added a short statement on Instagram, alongside his photo: “I am so happy that you are doing what you love.”
At first, there was confusion at how to interpret his comment.
“It’s not even a real question, honestly,” Williams said on Instagram when the post was first published. “It’s almost as if he doesn’t love tennis.”
Later, however, she was reminded that the most famous woman who ever married a man who wasn’t a tennis star is more likely to want to raise a daughter than a husband.
“I think it’s because he’s so nice, and I really want to be nice to people, so it’s almost even,” she said. “I want to be nice to the person that put me up on a pedestal.