Serena Williams’s husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, gets it. You know how no one ever calls a talented director “a great male director,” or lists an awesome chef as “one of the top male cooks to watch out for?” Yeah, the gender qualifier is only ever deployed when we talk about women’s accomplishments, and it’s probably time to stop bringing it up when we’re trying to praise someone’s abilities. Which is why Ohanian displayed that message on his shirt as he watched his wife play in the Australian Open on Tuesday, February 16.
His tee depicted Williams and the words “greatest female athlete,” with “female” crossed out. Not that we should have to explain this, but just in case anyone is trying to get this twisted: He’s not minimizing her femaleness. He’s saying she’s the greatest athlete, period, no need to elaborate further. Jarmere Jenkins, Williams’s hitting partner, wore the shirt as well, as noted by the Huffington Post.
Williams won her matches against number-two tournament seed Simona Halep, and will advance to a semifinal against Naomi Osaka. Ohanian celebrated her win on Twitter, making a dig at Madrid Open director and former pro Ion Tiriac, who recently suggested Williams should retire.
Serena Williams made a little joke herself about how long she’s been playing the game. When asked about her ability to score a point after a long rally, she said she hadn’t been dominating that skill since “the summer of 1926.” She also said it’s something she’s good at and needs to embrace. Literally owning her power and we love to see it.
As for that shirt, Ohanian hinted that Nike might soon produce more, calling himself just the company’s model on Twitter.
I’ll take one in medium, please. And a husband as supportive as Alexis Ohanian, if Nike makes those too.