It’s been quite a week for tennis megastar Serena Williams.
She’s at the subject of a positively absurd controversy thanks to John McEnroe saying she’d be ranked 700th if she was on the men’s circuit (she responded on Twitter with some fire) and is on the cover of Vanity Fair.
It’s that cover story from the magazine that reveals some behind-the-scenes moments regarding her pregnancy and how she met fiancee Alexi Ohanian.
We’ll start with the moment she found out she was pregnant a week before the Australian Open:
After playing poorly in her first match of the year, in which she felt she had missed too many backhands, she went to the practice court and for two and a half to three hours hit 2,500 of them, by her estimation. If she missed one, she started over. She did roughly the same the next practice day.
But she felt a little different physically. She had unexpectedly thrown up at one point and her breasts had enlarged. She thought it might be hormonal. But her friend Jessica Steindorff immediately suspected something else and suggested a pregnancy test. Serena thought it was ludicrous.
Jessica worked on her for two days until Serena relented, and so Jessica went to a pharmacy and bought a pregnancy kit.
“I’ll take it just because (a) to prove you wrong and (b) because it’s fun, whatever. It’s like a joke. Why not?”
She took the test right as she was prepping for an event for a lingerie company. She forgot about taking it and went back an hour and a half later to find it was positive:
Serena, as she put it, “did a double take and my heart dropped. Like literally it dropped.
“Oh my God, this can’t be—I’ve got to play a tournament,” said Serena. “How am I going to play the Australian Open? I had planned on winning Wimbledon this year.”
But never underestimate the Serena Stubbornness, as legendary in certain circles as her first serve. Beleaguered Jessica went back to the hotel pharmacy and bought five more test kits to further convince her.
Test No. 2: Positive. Test No. 3: Positive. Test No. 4: Positive. Test No. 5: Positive. Test No. 6: Positive.
And here’s the story with how she and Ohanian met: One morning in 2015, she was sitting by the pool at the Cavalieri hotel in Rome, when Ohanian sat down at a table right next to her’s when there were other empty spots around.
“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 remembered. Alexis recalled that the pool area was “not quite so empty.”
Then came the quintessential Australian accent of [business development coordinator] Zane Haupt. “Aye, mate! There’s a rat. There’s a rat by your table. You don’t want to sit there.”
Serena started laughing.
“We were trying to get him to move and get out of there,” said Serena. “He kind of refuses and he looks at us. And he’s like, ‘Is there really a rat here?’ ” At which point Serena remembers the first words she ever said to him.
“No, we just don’t want you sitting there. We’re going to use that table.”
“I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time.”
“Oh, you’re not afraid of rats?”
Which is when Serena suggested a compromise and invited Alexis to join them.
From there, the romance kindled, and when Ohanian proposed, he took Williams to that very same table, which had a plastic rat sitting on it.
You can read the entire feature here.