How Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and tennis superstar Serena Williams met and fell in love

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Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams.
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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The last six months have been huge for Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian.

The tennis superstar and the Reddit cofounder, respectively, found out they were expecting a child and got engaged – all since December.

But things weren’t always perfect. In fact, when they first met, Williams tried to get Ohanian to go away by telling him there was a rat nearby.

In the July cover story of Vanity Fair, writer Buzz Bissinger got the inside look at their love story. That, along with Instagram sleuthing, helped us compile the story of Ohanian and Williams’ whirlwind romance.

Here’s how this power couple from opposite worlds fell in love.


The pair met in May 2015 at the Hotel Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, when Ohanian sat down at the table next to Williams’ outside by the pool, according to Vanity Fair. Williams and her friends tried to get him to leave by telling him there was a rat at his table. When it didn’t work, they invited him to join them.

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The view from the Hotel Cavalieri Hilton in Rome.
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Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

Source: Vanity Fair


Williams had never heard of Reddit before, and Ohanian had never watched Williams play tennis, but he agreed to come to the match later that day. He knew so little about the sport that the first photo he shared publicly of Williams shows her committing a foot fault.

Looks like I just became a tennis fan. #priime

A post shared by Alexis Ohanian ???? (@alexisohanian) on

Source: Instagram, Vanity Fair


When they met, Ohanian had just gotten out of a five-year relationship with his college sweetheart, microbiologist Sabriya Stukes.

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Brad Barket/Getty

Source: The New York Times, Vanity Fair


Williams dated rapper Common up until 2010. Then, in August 2015, the rumor mill began churning when Williams and rapper Drake were spotted having dinner in Cincinnati. Drake was also in the stands at the US Open in September, but Williams’ insisted they were just friends. Williams called Drake her “lucky charm.”

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Clive Brunskill/Getty

Source: People, NY Daily News


Ohanian and Williams’ first official date took place before the French Open in June 2015. According to Vanity Fair, Williams invited Ohanian to Paris to see her play and they ended up walking around Paris for six hours before the tournament began.

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photo.ua/Shutterstock

Source: Vanity Fair


The pair kept quiet on social media throughout 2015, although Ohanian did attend the US Open in September.

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Alex Goodlett/Getty

He shared a photo from the match captioned “Come at the queen, you best not miss. #USOpen.”

Come at the queen, you best not miss. #USOpen

A post shared by Alexis Ohanian ???? (@alexisohanian) on

Source: Instagram, People


By April 2016, Ohanian knew he wanted to marry Williams. “I felt like a door had been opened to a person who made me want to be my best self,” Ohanian told Vanity Fair.

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Mark Kolbe/Getty

Source: Vanity Fair


Ohanian soon became a fixture at Williams’ matches, often showing up in the stands to watch her play.

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Pat Scala/Getty

But Williams was still keeping quiet about their relationship, at least on social media. Ohanian first appeared in one of her photos (but among a big group of friends) in August 2016. She referred to him as a “nerd” in the caption.

Source: Instagram, People


She posted their first photo together in November 2016 when they wore bear-themed outfits to a costume party.

Bear necessities

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Source: Instagram


On December 10, 2016, Ohanian proposed in the same place where they met: The Hotel Cavalieri in Rome.

#tbt to "the day"

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on


Ever the athlete, Williams wore sneakers (and she hid her ring with a tiny picture of a taco, her favorite food).

Can't resist a strong shoe game #nike

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on


Williams announced the engagement on Reddit. She had Ohanian draw her a customized version of Reddit’s alien logo “Snoo” and called herself the “future Mrs. Kn0thing” (Kn0thing is Ohanian’s Reddit username).

I said yes from isaidyes

I said yesisaidyes

Williams composed a poem to go along with the announcement:

“I came home/A little late/Someone had a bag packed for me/And a carriage awaited/Destination: Rome/To escort me to my very own “charming”/Back to where our stars first collided/And now it was full circle/At the same table we first met by chance/This time he made it not by chance/But by choice/Down on one knee/He said 4 words/And/r/isaidyes.”

Ohanian responded:

“And you made me the happiest man on the planet.”

Source: Facebook, Reddit


At the time, a source told E! News that they had “never seen Serena this happy before with a man. It sounds cheesy, but it was love at first sight. They laugh non-stop and that really fuels their relationship.”

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Michael Dodge/Getty

Source: E! News


Williams headed to Australia in early January 2017 to play in the Australian Open — right after finding out she was unexpectedly pregnant.

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Cameron Spencer/Getty

Source: Vanity Fair


Ohanian flew to Australia to cheer her on and learned the big news right before the tournament began.

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Scott Barbour/Getty

Source: Vanity Fair


Williams then went on to win the Australian Open while she was eight weeks pregnant.

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Clive Brunskill/Getty

Source: Vanity Fair


The couple went on a romantic vacation to Mexico in April, where they were photographed relaxing on the beach. They snapped this cute photo while they were there.

My only regret is not pointing my toe sorry coach Garry ????

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Source: Instagram, E! News


Williams later shared a photo of her growing baby bump on Ohanian’s birthday, along with a touching note to the baby.

“My Dearest Baby,” she wrote. “You gave me the strength I didn’t know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to join the players box next year. But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you…. once again today. On @alexisohanian bday. ???? from the world’s oldest number one to the world’s youngest number one. -Your Mommy”

Source: Instagram


Ohanian calls her his “#WCW, every day.”

My #WCW, every day.

A post shared by Alexis Ohanian ???? (@alexisohanian) on

Source: Instagram


And they looked stunning (and happy!) while attending the annual Met Gala in May.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Now, Ohanian and Williams are waiting for the birth of their baby at the end of the summer and planning to get married in the fall. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Perfect weekend. ???? @valvogt

A post shared by Alexis Ohanian ???? (@alexisohanian) on

Source: Instagram, Vanity Fair