Beyond the beauty of the photo taken by Annie Leibovitz is the phenomenal love story of the tennis star and her fiance, Reddit co-founder, Alex Ohanian told in her interview.
Here are seven things we learned about Serena, Alex and their amazing lives:
- They met in what you can describe as an awkward circumstance
The location was the Cavalieri hotel, in Rome, on May 12, 2015. That night Serena was about to play her first match in the Italian Open. She is not a morning person and usually doesn’t eat breakfast, but the buffet offering at the Cavalieri was beyond extravagant…
The buffet had closed down five minutes before the group got there, so their only recourse was to go to the pool area and sit at a table for four and order breakfast.
Alexis had stayed up until one or two in the morning drinking at a café with Kristen Wiig and friends. He was slightly hungover when he came down to breakfast. He too headed out to the pool area. Which is when he decided without thinking about it to sit at the table next to Serena, his only interest to get coffee and food and put on his headphones and work on his laptop.
Serena said he struck out to her and her friends as a pain in the neck for sitting next to them when the pool area was almost empty and all they just wanted to do was get him to move away from them. They even called him a rat and laughed over it.
2. Love made in Paris
After Serena won the Australian Open, the next big tournament was the second leg of the grand-slam circuit, the French Open, at Roland-Garros, later that month. She texted Alexis that she was bummed that he had not seen her play well in Rome and proposed that maybe he should come to Paris.
Alexis and Serena got into an Uber near Serena’s apartment and drove toward the Eiffel Tower. They stopped at a zoo Serena knew about called La Ménagerie in the Jardin des Plantes, then at a stall selling candies. Serena became excited, like a small child, and Alexis bought her some.
For six hours they walked all over, the magic of the day multiplied by the city’s heartbreak of beauty, which only made it more beautiful.
3. Why Alexis chose to marry Serena
Alexis knew he wanted to marry her, not simply out of happiness or compatibility. She was helping him become the best version of himself because of her own work ethic and focus, with millions watching and the expectation of the public that she should win every time, what Serena herself described as carrying “three pyramids” on her shoulder.
“I felt like a door had been opened to a person who made me want to be my best self. . . . I find myself just wanting to be better by simply being around her because of the standard she holds.
4. The proposal
Alexis decided he would surprise Serena by proposing to her on December 10 in virtually the same spot he had first met her: the Cavalieri. It was an intricate and tactical plan, several months in the making.
“I knew it was coming. I was like, ‘Serena, you’re 35, you’re ready. This is what you
want.’ ”, Serena said.
Alexis picked the same room they had shared a year earlier, the hotel at his instruction filling it with flowers. He took her downstairs to the same table by the pool area where they had first met. No one else was there, since the hotel, also at his instruction, had cleared everyone else out. He retold the story of how he had met her for the first time at this exact spot two years earlier. On the table was a little plastic rat.
Alexis got on one knee and proposed.
5. How Serena found out about her pregnancy
After playing poorly in her first match of the year, in which she felt she had missed too many backhands, she went to the practice court and for two and a half to three hours hit 2,500 of them, by her estimation.
But she felt a little different physically. She had unexpectedly thrown up at one point and her breasts had enlarged. She thought it might be hormonal. But her friend Jessica Steindorff immediately suspected something else and suggested a pregnancy test. Serena thought it was ludicrous.
Jessica bought the pregnancy test kit and Serena agreed to take the test for two reasons: To prove Jessica wrong and because it was fun.
That Friday, as Serena was doing her hair and makeup for an event, she took the test in the bathroom. “I put it down. I went back to finishing hair and makeup, was laughing, talking. I was getting the styling done. An hour and a half later, I went back to the bathroom and I totally forgot about it because it was impossible for me. . . . So I went back to get dressed and I went back in the bathroom and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that test.’ ”
Serena would not believe the results so Jessica bought five other packs of the test kit and the results: Test No. 2: Positive. Test No. 3: Positive. Test No. 4: Positive. Test No. 5: Positive. Test No. 6: Positive.
6. She broke the news of the pregnancy to Alex like this
Once Serena knew she was pregnant, she called Alexis and told him he needed to come to Melbourne earlier than planned. She did not give him the reason, but Alexis thought it was likely health-related and immediately got a United flight out of San Francisco. When she saw him, not a word was said.
She handed him a paper bag with the six positive pregnancy tests.
7. How Serena feels about having a baby
She said in the interview “If you would have told me last year in October or November that I would have a baby, not be pregnant but have a baby, I would have thought you were the biggest liar in the world. That was how I felt when I was pregnant. It wasn’t planned for and I never would have expected it at that time.
But the best thing in our lives right now is Alexis Jnr.