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After Serena Williams announced she would be retiring from tennis to focus on her family and business ventures, her husband, Alexis Ohanian shared, "I'm so happy she wrote that piece. It came out so well and I have a feeling she's going to be hearing about it for years to come from folks."
Ohanian, who founded Reddit, also took to Twitter to share about the impact she's had on the world. "I've seen over the last 7 years how much y'all love my wife—what she means to so many, worldwide. It's unlike anything I've ever seen," he tweeted. "Plenty of folks have told me 'how Reddit changed their life,' but the scale & impact of 'how Serena changed my life' stories absolutely dwarfs it."
He continued, "And that's just the stuff I hear when people come up to me to say hi. You simply cannot overstate the size and influence she's had on so many people. And for what it's worth, as far as I can tell, she has no idea. She doesn't think about it."
Here's everything you need to know about Alexis Ohanian—husband to Serena Williams, tech entrepreneur, and investor.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents.
Ohanian was born in 1983 to a German mother and a father who is the son of Armenian refugees; his paternal grandparents fled the Arrmenian genocide.
"I have a bit of a crush on the Statue of Liberty... I look at that every day and keep in perspective—coming from a family of immigrants—everything they went through to give me the good fortune I’ve had," he said.
His parents soon moved to the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where he graduated from Howard High School in 2001."I went to high school in Ellicott City, Maryland, and I felt pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. It just took time away from my doing things on the Internet... In school, I was just a kid. Online, I had authority. My parents were cool with it, although I guess they didn't know I was e-mailing total strangers," he recalled in a 2012 profile.
He then went to the University of Virginia; he graduated in 2005 with degrees in history and commerce. At UVA, he met Steve Huffman on the first day of freshman year and they bonded over a shared love of video games.
In 2005, Ohanian and Huffman co-founded Reddit, "the front page of the internet."
They built Reddit in three weeks, and sixteen months later, they sold it to Condé Nast. He left Reddit in 2010, three years after they were acquired. "I want to stay hungry. I really believe my resources are best used to help projects that make the world suck less," Ohanian said.
After leaving Reddit, Ohanian focused on early-stage tech investing, supporting start ups. He also wrote a book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.
He met Serena Williams in 2015.
Ohanian and Williams were staying at the same hotel, the Cavalieri, in Rome. Williams was there for the Italian Open, and Ohanian was in town for the Festival of Media Global conference. As Williams recalled to Vanity Fair, "This big guy comes and he just plops down at the table next to us, and I’m like, 'Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?'"
Williams and her party tried to get him to move to one of the other empty tables—and told him there was a rat by him. Their first conversation went as follows:
"No, we just don’t want you sitting there. We’re going to use that table," Williams said.
"I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time," Ohanian replied.
"Oh, you’re not afraid of rats?"
Than, Williams invited Ohanian to sit with them, and the rest was history. Williams invited Ohanian to meet her in Paris for the French Open, and they went on their first date. At the end of 2016, Ohanian proposed at the same hotel where they met in Rome, and in 2017, they welcomed Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in September and married in November in New Orleans.
You can always find Ohanian in Williams's player's box, cheering his wife on. In 2021, he shared, "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."
When Williams announced her retirement, a large part of her decision came from wanting to expand their family.
He's a big advocate for paternity leave.
He started fighting for paid paternity leave after the birth of their daughter, when he took a full 16 weeks off.
In 2019, he started advocating for federal paid family leave legislation. "I hope to be meeting with many senators, representatives, plenty of dads, on both sides of the aisle, in both houses of the Legislature, who want this to be the law of the land," Ohanian told Good Morning America. "What we are looking for is some minimum number of weeks of leave."
In 2020, he opened up how Williams nearly dying in childbirth emphasized the need, to him, for paid paternal leave. "The understanding of my responsibility to care for my family that I gained during those first months after Olympia’s birth has never left me, and it gives purpose to my fatherhood today," he wrote in an OpEd in the New York Times.
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