Serena Williams' Reddit cofounder husband Alexis Ohanian 'thought tennis was a joke of a sport' before he met her

Jin S. Lee/Business InsiderAlexis Ohanian speaking to Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell at IGNITION.
  • Alexis Ohanian thought tennis was ‘a joke of a sport’ before he met his wife Serena Williams.
  • The Reddit cofounder was a speaker at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference in New York on Monday.
  • He told the audience he would change the channel whenever it was on.
  • However, that opinion changed completely when he met and married Williams, as he saw the mental strength that is required to excel in the game.

Alexis Ohanian once thought that tennis was a joke, but after meeting 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams he quickly changed his mind.

“I played team sports my entire life and I thought tennis was a joke of a sport,” he told Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell at BI’s IGNITION conference in New York on Monday. “I thought it was something people did for giggles when they wanted to get a little exercise.”

He even said he would “change the channel when it came on.”

But Ohanian, the Reddit cofounder who married Williams in 2017, said that opinion was influenced by his affinity for team sports growing up. He said he was “naive,” because at that time he had not seen the mental strength required to succeed at the highest echelons of tennis.

“I was so naive and so wrong and my entire mindset of sport… no matter what day I was having, there were 10 other guys on the field, or four other guys on the court who were there to help me out because it was team based,” Ohanian said.

“To take rejection and defeat and to be able to find that next gear and that higher level is something she has turned into an artform and is unparalleled at. That is a mental strength that doesn’t get enough credit in sport.”

He added: “The mental strength it requires when you are alone out there with just one other person combined with the mental reset that is required between every serve is unmatched in terms of physical strength required to be great.

“That universal truth I see it in the beauty of the sport but not just when she’s playing it, also in the preparation leading up to it.”

Read more: Serena Williams’ Reddit co-founder husband Alexis Ohanian slams controversial ‘angry baby’ cartoon for being ‘racist and misogynistic’

Ohanian has often spoke glowingly of Williams and previously said that his marriage to her provides him with a “front row seat to greatness.”

When she returned to tennis in 2018 after giving birth to their daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. last year, he even erected four giant billboards that proclaimed her the “greatest momma of all time.”

Williams is yet to win a WTA title since coming back to the game but has reached two major finals – the 2018 Wimbledon Championships final, and the 2018 US Open final. She is expected to compete at the next major, the 2019 Australian Open in January, but it is unclear what warm-up tournaments she will play beforehand.

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