Tennis star Serena Williams has announced her engagement to “Mayor of the Internet” and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Fittingly, Williams shared the news on Reddit – the seminal social news aggregator and discussion forum her fiancé is famous for helping create.
The website’s influence has been so significant that prominent United States business magazine Forbes dubbed Ohanian the “Mayor of the Internet” in 2012.
Williams, 35, wrote in a poem on Reddit that Ohanian, 33, flew her to Rome to pop the question.
“At the same table we first met by chance. This time he made it not by chance. But by choice,” Williams wrote on Reddit.
“Down on one knee. He said 4 words. And r/isaidyes.”
Ohanian, who goes by the username “kn0thing” on Reddit, responded to his fiancée on the same Reddit thread.
“And you made me the happiest man on the planet,” he wrote.
“Also – you’re a really cute Snoo,” referring to the image Williams shared in her post: an illustration of herself and Ohanian as Reddit mascots, also known as Snoos.
“As I was drawing this for you, I thought, ‘our Snoos should go out on a date sometime’.”
The pair have reportedly been dating since October 2015 when they met at a lunch but have rarely been spotted together in public.
Who is Alexis Ohanian?
Ohanian co-founded Reddit in 2005 with classmate Steve Huffman. He did so after graduating from the University of Virginia in the same year with commerce and history degrees.
Reddit is one of the most influential websites on the internet. It is full of forums and discussions which riff off, share and debate news stories.
Reddit organises these through “Subreddit” forums which include news, food, fitness and science threads among many others.
— Alexis Ohanian (@alexisohanian) September 13, 2016
Ohanian was born in the United States and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with his parents. His mother was a German au pair and his father an Armenian refugee.
His LinkedIn profile lists his many professional tech-related jobs but it also lists his first ever place of employment – Pizza Hut, where he worked as a waiter from 1999 to 2001.
He was also once a “parking garage attendant” where he was “paid to read, as well as provide impeccable customer service”.
A photo posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on
In addition to Reddit Ohanian is currently involved with venture capital firm Initialised Capital.
Ohanian’s net worth is estimated to be $AUD6.2 million, according to Slate. That’s nowhere near Williams’ formidable fortune of more than $AUD207 million.
This is because Ohanian and Huffman sold Reddit in 2006 before it reached its full potential. The pair left the company briefly but have now returned.
Ohanian is also a self-described nerd, a change for Williams who previously dated rapper Drake, F1 star Lewis Hamilton and actor Colin Farrell.
His credo, according to his personal website, is to be dedicated to “making the world suck less”.
One way he tried to do that, which received considerable praise at the time, was to gift his football tickets to an eight-year-old boy.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) December 20, 2016
Ohanian is a strong advocate for an open internet. He was one of the leading voices to help defeat the US government’s proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
SOPA sought to expand the power of law enforcement so it could stop online piracy and copyright violation.
SOPA was defeated, but not the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which its opponents, including Ohanian, felt would allow the state too much access to people’s data.
It is for this kind of advocacy, his co-founding of Reddit and his current support for start-up tech firms that the New York Times dubbed Ohanian “the internet’s own cheerleader”.
Ohanian is an author too, having written Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.
As for tennis, of which his fiancée Williams is an ace, having won 22 Grand Slams, Ohanian had never been to a match before the pair began dating, a source told US Weekly.
In an Instagram post earlier this year, Ohanian called becoming a tennis fan “one of the best decisions I ever made”.
A photo posted by Alexis Ohanian (@alexisohanian) on