Serena Williams is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. With 23 Grand Slam titles under her belt, the legendary athlete announced in August 2022 that she would be “evolving” away from the sport to focus on her business ventures and her family, which includes her 5-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., whom she shares with her husband. But who is her spouse and what does he do? Here’s everything you need to know about Serena Williams’ husband, tech entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian.
Who Is Serena Williams’ Husband, Alexis Ohanian? Everything You Need to Know About the Tech Entrepreneur and Ultra-Proud Spouse
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Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian’s Meet-Cute Almost Didn’t Happen
The power couple met in 2015 at the Cavalieri hotel in Rome when Williams was there for the Italian Open, Ohanian for the Festival of Media Global Conference. But the meet-cute almost didn’t happen. After Ohanian plopped down at a table beside Williams’, the tennis player unsuccessfully tried to dissuade him by telling him there was a rat nearby, per Town and Country. Undeterred, Ohanian ended up with an invitation to sit with her group, and, well, the rest is history.
Ohanian proposed in 2016, back at the Cavalieri, and the couple married and welcomed their daughter in 2017.
Ohanian Originally Set Out to Be a Lawyer
A self-described startup investor, Ohanian was born in 1983 in Brooklyn, New York to a German mother and Armenian father whose own parents fled the Armenian genocide. He attended Howard High School in Ellicott City, Maryland, graduating in 2001.
He went on to the University of Virginia, where he majored in history and commerce with a minor in German. Originally, Ohanian had plans to become a lawyer—but that was all dashed the day he walked out on an LSAT-prep course and had what he calls “The Waffle House Epiphany ” (named as such because he was sitting in a Waffle House when he had it).
“I didn't want to be a lawyer. I wanted to make a dent in the universe,” he wrote in an Inc. profile.
But Instead, He Co-Founded Reddit
In 2005, Ohanian and his college roommate, Steve Huffman, pitched a mobile food ordering app to startup accelerator Y Combinator, which was rejected. However, they were invited into the program, tasked with building “the front page of the internet.”
They did it in three weeks and named the online community Reddit. Then 16 months later the pair sold Reddit to Condé Nast for somewhere between $10 and $20 million. Ohanian then returned as executive chairman in 2014 and led the company from $10 million in revenue to a $10 billion evaluation. He later wrote a book detailing the experience.
In 2020, Ohanian resigned his position on the board of Reddit after being deeply affected by the murder of George Floyd. “I’m relieved that Reddit fulfilled my wish to have my seat filled by a Black director and started taking steps to curb hate on the platform,” he wrote on his website.
Ohanian Manages Many Other Projects and Businesses
Ohanian is also the founder of Initialized, a venture capital firm that has invested in startups, including 40 “unicorns”—companies with a $1 billion evaluation. His firm is behind notable names such as Coinbase, Hubspot and Instacart.
Also in 2020, Ohanian stepped down as a managing partner at Initialized to build another venture capital firm, 776, which he says will be focused on “software and empathy.” 776 will prioritize seed investments and has conscientiously sought out investors so that the makeup is 50 percent women and 15 percent Black/Indigenous people. So far, they've raised $750 million.
In the vein of “making a dent in the universe,” Ohanian has also set up the 776 Foundation. The two-year program grants $100,000 to 20 fellows between the ages of 18 and 23 who have big, bold, bright ideas to fight climate change on technological, social and political fronts. So yeah, he’s a pretty big deal.
But Is Most Proud of Being a Husband and Father
How does it feel to be the spouse of one of the world’s greatest athletes?
"I'll be a self-made billionaire one day and most people will still know me as Serena's husband (or Olympia's dad) and that's fine by me,” he quipped last year. And that’s not the first time the entrepreneur has publicly declared his support for his superstar wife. In November, Ohanian found himself the subject of a diss track by Drake (Middle of the Ocean) which flippantly refers to him as a “groupie.”
“The reason I stay winning is because I'm relentless about being the absolute best at whatever I do—including being the best groupie for my wife & daughter,” he clapped back in a Twitter post.
The Self-Proclaimed “Business Dad” Is Also a Big Advocate for Paternity Leave
"If there is a new child entering your life, you should be able to spend time with them,” Ohanian said to Good Morning America. He took 16 weeks of paternity leave when his daughter was born in 2017. Williams had suffered a pulmonary embolism after an emergency C-section and was left bedridden for six weeks.
In 2019, Ohanian campaigned for better family leave and partnered with Dove Men+Care to encourage fathers to sign The Pledge for Paternity Leave, a pledge for fathers, allies and business leaders to take, advocate for and enact paternity leave policies in the workplace.
Additionally, Ohanian is the host of the Business Dad podcast. In a series of candid conversations, he talks about fatherhood, posing the question women are frequently asked: “How do you balance it all?” to successful men in sports, business and entertainment.
And on the Weekends, He Moonlights as a Pancake Artist
As if he weren’t busy enough, Ohanian somehow finds the time to moonlight as a Sunday morning pancake artist. From Princess Peach to Poppy the Troll, on the weekends we’ll find him dishing up tasty creations for his most important customer, his daughter. Um, can we come over for brunch, please?