Ohanian’s romantic gesture took the couple back to Italy, where it all began for them in 2015. They first met in Rome after they caught each other’s eyes completely by chance. Williams and her friends were sat by the pool at the Hotel Cavalieri when Ohanian sat beside them. The group tried to convince the businessman to leave by pretending there was a rat under his chair. But he insisted he wasn’t put off by rodents and ended up joining the table, where he and Williams hit it off. “It was love at first sight,” a source later told E! News.
Williams, 36, and Ohanian, 35, kept quiet as their love started to blossom. But the rumor mill began buzzing when Ohanian shared a snap of the tennis ace at the U.S. Open. “Come at the queen, you best not miss,” he captioned the image on Instagram.
By April 2016 it was clear there was a love match between Ohanian and Williams. The tech entrepreneur hinted to Vanity Fair that she was “The One.” “I felt like a door had been opened to a person who made me want to be my best self,” he said.
It look a little longer for the Wimbledon winner to start showing off her Prince Charming on social media, however. Ohanian popped up in a group shot in August 2016, although Williams referred to him as “nerd.” Nonetheless, that nerd was winning her heart.
In November 2016 Williams shared a photo of the couple together, without anyone else present in the snap this time. The image showed them in bear-themed outfits ready for a fancy dress party. It was the first time that the 23-time Grand Slam-winner had posted such a clear “couple” shot on social media and seemed to be a sign that love was in the air.
With Christmas just around the corner, Ohanian flew Williams back to where it all began – Rome’s Hotel Cavalieri – to ask her the big question. The businessman arranged for the poolside to be empty, and the table where they first met was laid with white cloths. A bottle of chilled champagne sat ready for a toast, and rose petals were strewn across the floor.
In a nod to the couple’s first meeting – and their sense of humor – a plastic rat was nestled alongside the bubbly. Dropping to one knee, Ohanian popped the question. Williams later told Vogue it was “such a beautiful moment.”
Serena announced their news to the world with a poem posted online – on reddit, naturally, which Ohanian co-founded – in which she revealed the special significance Italy held for the couple. The poem read: “I came home. A little late. Someone had a bag packed for me. And a carriage waited. 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. But by choice. Down on knee. He said 4 words. And I said yes.”
And there were about to be other momentous changes in the couple’s lives, with a visit from the stork on the horizon. Williams felt a little off color as she prepared for the 2017 Australian Open, so a friend suggested she might be expecting. A couple of pregnancy tests later and her pal’s suspicions were confirmed.
Williams first gave fans a peek at her baby bump when she was 20 weeks pregnant, sharing a Snapchat of herself in a yellow swimsuit. The image was later deleted, leading some to wonder whether she’d revealed it inadvertently. Regardless, the cat was out of the bag, and after a day of speculation Williams announced she was going to be a mum.
Their daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., arrived on September 1, 2017. Williams later revealed it had been a problematic birth and that she had “almost died” due to complications, according to CNN. She required weeks of bed rest before finally enjoying everyday life with her child.
With the dramatic birth behind them, the pair settled in to parenting and refocused on their wedding. On November 16, 2017, they exchanged vows in a ceremony fit for a princess. The big day was held in New Orleans with 200 family and friends in attendance.
Celebrity guests included Beyonce and Kim Kardashian. The U.S. reality TV star told Vogue she was delighted Williams had “found her prince.” “From the moment she told me she met Alexis in Rome, it was like… she’s been so happy and has this light about her that is so special to see,” Kardashian said.
Their wedding day was full of personal touches. The event had a catwalk-show feel, and instead of pews the guests nestled on comfortable sofas facing the aisle. Looking as regal as any royal, Williams walked herself down the aisle because her father Richard felt unable to do so. A powerhouse on court, she was a vision of feminine elegance in a breathtaking dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.
Tears flowed as the couple recited their own vows. Vogue’s report of the event stated that Ohanian told his “queen” that everything he’d achieved paled in comparison with tying the knot that day. “You are the greatest of all time, not just in sport,” he told his new wife. “I’m talking about as a mother and as a wife. I am so excited to write so many more chapters of our fairytale together.”
Guests dined on Southern and Armenian food, honoring both Williams’ and Ohanian’s heritage, and Italian food was also served as a nod to where their love story began. Ohanian had an extra surprise in store as the party drew to a close, with a curtain dropping to reveal a picturesque carousel twinkling with lights.
Early in 2018 Williams returned to the tennis court and, once again, Ohanian had her back. The internet mogul took out a series of billboards along the route that his wife would take before her first game back, reminding Williams of how special she was. The huge posters featured images of their daughter and read in turn: “Greatest” “momma” “of all time.” The fourth read, “Serena Williams G.M.O.A.T – Alexis Jr. + Sr.”
The billboard move was incredible, but Ohanian’s latest grand gesture might have topped it. The entrepreneur treated Williams to the most romantic of meals after she said she fancied some Italian food. But we aren’t talking a pizza from the fridge or some home-cooked pasta. No, Ohanian whisked the star off to Venice for dinner. He shared a sweet image of them having a meal in the stunning city and wrote on Instagram: “She wanted Italian for dinner, so…”
The date to all dates didn’t end with the meal, with photos showing that the famous couple spent time taking in the sights. One image was of Williams strolling down a dimly lit Venice street, while another snap revealed they took a ride in a gondola, no doubt whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears as they floated down the famous Grand Canal. It doesn’t look as if their honeymoon is ending any time soon.