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Serena Williams Tried to Scare Off Husband Alexis Ohanian When They First Met

The tennis trailblazer told Jimmy Fallon about her not-so-nice meet cute with Olympia and Adira's dad.

By Christopher Rudolph

Serena Williams and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, have been married since 2017 and share two adorable daughters. But their first encounter was a meet-not-so-cute that involved...an imaginary rat?

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

Since retiring in 2022, the tennis icon has moved into entrepreneurship, like Reddit co-founder Ohanian — Wimbledon 2024 marks the first time since 1996 that neither Serena Williams or her sister, Venus Williams, will be competing in the event, which kicks off July 1 in London and runs through July 14. 

Williams told Jimmy Fallon the full story of how she and Ohanian met during an April 2018 visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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Where did Serena Williams meet Alexis Ohanian?

"So we met randomly in Rome, which is one of my favorite cities. And it's such a romantic story," Williams joked to Fallon.

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"I went down for breakfast. Now, meanwhile, this was during a tournament," Willams epxlained. "I never eat breakfast during a tournament, because I'm always nervous. I have all these nerves and I always stay in my room."

Serena Williams on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Episode 858

"And I'm always like watching film and studying, but this time, I'm like, 'I don't care. I just need to get out.' So I went downstairs, but the breakfast was closed, and so, I ended up sitting somewhere else," she continued. "It was empty. Like, no one was there, so it was me and, my trainer and my coach."

"We were all just sitting at the table, and then, this big tall guy walks in. You know, kind of frumpy and like hard. Like pounding each step," said Williams, jokingly mimicking Ohanian's steps with much exaggeration. 

"He does not walk like that!" laughed Fallon.

"He plops down right next to us. And I'm like, 'Who is this guy, and why are you here?' We were being the mean team, and we kind of were trying to get him away."

Which is why she invented a threat.

"We told him there's a rat, like, 'It's moved. Be careful! There's a rat,'" Williams recounted. "There was no rat."

"And now we're married, so....I don't know," Williams added with a laugh. Ah, romance!

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Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams on a red carpet in a tux and black dress

Serena Williams married Alexis Ohanian in 2017

After meeting in May 2015, the two were married on November 16, 2017 at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. They have two daughters together, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. and Adira River Ohanian.