CELEBRITY

Serena Williams Wedding: Everything You Need To Know

The tennis star's special day
serena and alexisGetty

Q: Is Serena Williams married?

A: Yes.

Q: Do we want to relive the entire magical day from start to finish?

A: Hell yes!

It seemed an unlikely match,  the world No. 1 tennis champion and the co-founder of Reddit. Both doggedly career focused and in the prime of their mid-30s (Serena was 36 and Alexis was 34 at the time) who would have guessed the love story that was about to unfold? Let’s travel back to 2017 and experience their wedding day, and Serena’s three wedding dresses, all over again!

Pictured: Dancing up a storm at their wedding in November, 2017.

When did Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian meet?

In May 2015, Serena and Alexis meet by complete coincidence the Cavalieri Hotel in Rome. Alexis was in the city to speak a tech conference, and Serena was due to play a tournament there. Alexis annoyed the star athlete  by sitting too close to her and her friends table. “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?,’ ” Serena told Vanity FairSo, Serena and her friends did what any normal, mature group of mates would do –  they pretended that there was a rat next to him. “We were trying to get him to move and get out of there,” Serena told Vanity Fair. “He kind of refuses, and he looks at us. And he’s like, ‘Is there really a rat here?’” Her response – was brutal. “No, we just don’t want you sitting there. We’re going to use that table.”

We love a lady that tells it how it is! Little did Serena know that Alexis is from Brooklyn and, subsequently,  isn’t scared of rats at all. They started talking about Alexis’ role in the tech conference and Serena ended up inviting Alexis to Paris to watch her play tennis. It was an L.A invite – as in she didn’t expect him to attend her game and had no intention of actually following this invite up. But Alexis didn’t pick up on this and flew to Paris for the weekend anyway!

Video: Alexis tells Stephen Colbert how he ended up flying to Paris to hang out with Serena

They ended up spending a day in Paris, exploring the sites, and discovered that they had a potential connection. In September 2015, Alexis attended the U.S Open and posted this picture to his Instagram – causing speculation that the Reddit co-founder and tennis legend were dating. After all, you don’t call someone a Queen for no reason, right?

In August 2016, Alexis makes his debut on Serena’s Instagram when she shares a group picture of a team building exercise. Sure, the caption is her straight-up calling Alexis ‘a nerd’ but if that isn’t flirty banter then we don’t know what is. Plus, Serena is standing right next to Alexis in the photo and no, we are not reading too much into this!

By the time this cute couples pic gets uploaded to the Internet, we’re classifying it as the official ‘We Are Dating’ announcement. No ifs ands or Serena’s incredible butt! They would ultimately date for two years before Alexis’ incredibly romantic proposal.

The Proposal

Full disclosure, we’re kind of annoyed at Alexis. He set the bar too damn high when he got down on one knee. How’s anyone going to be able to propose to the love of their life now after the world witnessed Serena being swept off her feet? 

Alexis wanted to propose to Serena on 10 December at the Cavalieri Hotel where they first met. But with her hectic schedule, getting Serena there was almost mission impossible. Initially, she was scheduled to play at an exhibition in India so she was talked into making a stopover in Italy on the way home. Perfect right? Well that all came crashing down when the India exhibition was cancelled, leaving Serena with no compelling reason to be in Italy. She started to refocus and prepare to train for the upcoming Australian Open but inside, Alexis was panicking. If Serena got into training mode, there wouldn’t be anytime to whisk her away. 

Alexis needed help. So Serena’s executive assistant, Dakota Baynham, secretly packed her bags. Fashion giant Tommy Hilfiger scheduling a meeting with Serena in her house in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, so she would be there and be able to get taken to the airport. Serena’s agent Jill Smoller then rocked up to her house and told Serena that she was off to Italy because Alexis had planned a spontaneous trip.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BR-zc0sBEd-/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=12&wp=1316&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com&rp=%2Fentertainment%2Fcelebs%2Fa27306054%2Fserena-williams-alexis-ohanian-relationship-timeline%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A11%2C%22os%22%3A40051%7D

Serena wasn’t born yesterday, she knew that something was up. Of the proposal, she told Vanity Fair “I knew it was coming. I was like, ‘Serena, you’re 35, you’re ready. This is what you want.’ ” Neither Serena of Alexis have been married previously, so this seemed like the next logical step in their lives. When she arrived, Alexis had booked out the entire hotel and had a table set up where they met, ready to propose. Look closely – he even arranged for a plastic rat to be chilling out next to the champagne! Shortly after, Alexis announced their engagement on Reddit with this adorable little cartoon of their Snoos (Reddit avatars)

The Engagement Ring 

If you can bear to drag your eyes away from Olympia, Serena and Alexis’ perfect little daughter, get a load of that engagement ring. It’s a massive 12 carat emerald cut diamond engagement ring in a prong setting. It’s lucky Serena is so in shape otherwise she might have a hard time holding her hand up! For a while, Serena teased her followers by not revealing the much discussed engagement ring, posting this:

Then superimposing the tortilla over her actual ring in this subsequent shot. You have to hand it to her, she knew the world wanted to see that bling and she made us wait for it!.

Pictured: You’re not fooling anyone with your tortilla photoshop Serena, we know Alexis got you some serious bling!

Serena Williams’ Wedding 

Serena and Alexis were married on 16 November 2017 in New Orleans. The date has special significance, as it is the birthday of Alexis’ late mother. “Alexis really wanted to do New Orleans,” explained Serena to Vogue. “It’s his favourite city besides Brooklyn. It’s got a heavy European influence; it’s fun and has amazing food. He just loves the vibe. The venue—the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans—was a decision we both made. Painting and art is something I’m really passionate about, so it just felt natural and different to do it at a contemporary art museum.” As of the date, Serena said  “It is her birthday, and we wanted her to be represented at the wedding.” “Obviously, we wish that she could be here for this, but choosing her birthday as our wedding date was a nice way of making sure she’s still involved and made us feel more connected to her on our day.” This was especially touching considering Serena’s religion. Many people incorrectly assume that she is Muslim, when in fact Serena and her sister Venus were raised in the Jehovah’s Witness tradition, and therefore Serena does not personally celebrate birthdays.

Over 200 family and friends were present to witness their vows, and as you might have expected, there were a wealth of stars in attendance. The list of the rich and famous was not limited to:

  • Beyoncé and her mother, Tina
  • Kelly Rowland
  • Ciara
  • Kim Kardashian-West
  • Anna Wintour

 

The Beauty and the Beast theme

If you’ve followed Serena on Instagram or looked at her website, you’ll know that she’s passionate about fashion and is very much a girly-girl at heart. Serena and Alexis’ wedding planner spoke to Vogue about how the theme came to be Beauty and the Beast. “The whole fairy-tale idea came to us early on,” recalls Jennifer. “Serena’s very girly. She was like, ‘I love Disney, how can we incorporate it in?’ Then Serena and Alexis said, ‘What do you think about a royal ball?’ Serena was like, ‘I just want it to be opulent. I want it to be like a fairy tale.” And a fairytale wedding it was. The decor was dramatic, forming the perfect backdrop to the ceremony itself. “Serena wanted a ball, but she wanted a modern ball, not anything that was too stuffy,” said Preston Bailey. “For the flowers and overall aesthetic, she wanted something that was very different and unique.” We don’t know if they so far as to have Disney wedding readings, but we know that the band played songs like “Be Our Guest” and “Tale as Old As Time.” In total, it’s estimated that the reception cost the newlyweds close to $4 million dollars.

Serena’s Wedding Dress

Serena had three outfit changes over the course of the evening. Her wedding dress (pictured above) was a strapless, belted Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen princess gown with a cape. Alexis wore an Armani suit to compliment his bride. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BboKplTgn9o/

Serena carried a classic bouquet of white roses and wore $3.5 million worth of  jewellery by XIV Karats as she walked down the aisle. Of the dress, which she teamed with jewel encrusted Nike trainers, Serena said “I flew to London to meet with Sarah and ended up falling in love with the ball gown silhouette, which is completely the opposite of what I ever thought I would choose for myself. I loved the idea of doing a really spectacular ball gown, and it has turned out to be such an incredibly special piece.” 

Serena changed into her second dress to arrive at her reception. The Versace gown was adorned with beads, and feathering so intricate that it took a team of five embroiderers to create the dress. According to Donatella Versace herself, the embroiderers “worked nonstop to make sure the tiniest details were perfectly taken care of, for a total of 1,500 hours.” 

Pictured: Serena and Alexis take to the dance floor after being introduced as husband and wife for the first time.

Pictured: “A dream come true” – Serena on the cover of Brides wearing one of her two dream dresses.

To share in their first dance, Serena took to floor with Alexis wearing her final dress, a shorter Versace number (pictured below)

Pictured: Serena overcome with happiness as Alexis revealed he’d arranged for a carousel.

The height of the evening was yet to come. In the small hours of the morning, around 1:30am, Alexis unveiled a surprise carousel. His gift to his new wife lead to one of the cutest celebrity wedding photos of all time. Have you ever seen a couple so in love? Both Serena and Alexis were happy to share many of their wedding photos on their respective social media accounts. You can follow Serena @serenawilliams and Alexis @alexisohanian.

Pictured: The newlyweds and their baby daughter

The Honeymoon

Serena, Alexis and baby Olympia enjoyed their honeymoon in seclusion, on a private island in the Bahamas called Kamalame Cay Resort. The accomodation was four-bedroom oceanfront 600-square foot villa and the property, on a barrier island, was reachable only by private ferry, resort helicopter, or seaplane. We can’t relate, but we can imagine that paparazzi trying to snap pictures of you on your honeymoon would be intrusive AF.

The villa itself was 29 miles from Nassau International Airport and not far from Williams’ South Florida home. Surprisingly, anyone can book the place using Booking.com, but be warned: it’ll cost you $35,000 per week. 

The Present Day

November this year will mark Serena and Alexis’s 2nd anniversary. Right now, they look to be focusing on their careers and raising Olympia and don’t seem to have any plans for more babies. Although who knows? Serena won the Australian Open final while eight weeks pregnant with her first baby, she could very well do it again! 

Related stories