Lainey asked me on an episode of Show Your Work what my guess would be for the name of Serena Williams’ baby. I went with Celestine. Sounds like Venus, sounds like Serena… and above all, there’s a regal air to it. That’s what I was aiming at most.
It wasn’t a bad guess. Alexis Olympia may not be literally regal, but it announces, really succinctly, that “this child belongs among the Gods and Goddesses”. It’s akin to calling her Zeus!
Except it’s so skillfully done. The baby is Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. – her father is Alexis Kerry Ohanian. This is one of the few, few situations where I am in love with a unisex name and a child named after their parent, because it’s so seamless and perfect. Yes, name her Alexis, because it’s actually a name that works for both. Yes, go ahead and link her name to her father, because nobody’s ever going to forget this is Serena Williams’ daughter – but ‘Olympia’ doesn’t let us forget, either (and maybe evokes ‘Oracene’, as Lainey hoped).
Still, I don’t know if this name would be as delightful if it weren’t accompanied by an adorable, personal, completely surprising video about Serena and Alexis’ journey through her pregnancy. Watch their video, entitled “Hello World”, and then tell me you’re not charmed…
It’s so normal. So low-key. They look so happy and excited and amazed that they are making a person up from scratch, and shuffle by each other when one is doing a bit on a video and the other just wants to sit down, and take photos of the weird in-between times when it looks kind of like a pregnancy and kind of like your pants just sit oddly. It’s the opposite of extra. Even the Reddit-family is adorably dorky, a slightly updated version of those stick figure families on the backs of minivans.
I want to write that I don’t know why I’m so surprised, but I do know. It’s because the message for as long as I can remember has been that Serena is the GOAT, and we are familiar with her game face. Even in VOGUE or Vanity Fair, even when pregnant, it was about ‘the court’, and when she would play after birth. How she would defend her titles. How her focus would remain strong. Exactly what you expect from Serena Williams. Her brand.
The video, by contrast, does not feel on-brand, and that is delightful. It is refreshing. May the Gods be merciful, but in a time when pregnancies are dropped with photoshoots and domain names and retreating from the public eye, Amal Clooney-style, it feels just so normal.
What I love about that – the reason I’m growing a crush on the Williams-Ohanian families as I type this – is that we know they’re not normal. She’s the GOAT, he’s Reddit. But they know we know. This video wasn’t about how unusual they are, but how typical they are.
Except of course that they point out at the end the baby already has one Grand Slam under her belt. Except that.
In another Show Your Work episode, we discussed the fact that it’s gross and bullsh-t that having this baby has been said to ‘humanize’ her. If I were her, I’d be annoyed at people like me, who grew up in a tennis household and never caught the bug, only to now be like “gee, she’s neato!” Nonetheless, I suspect I’m not the only one looking around for a bandwagon to jump on, if for no other reason than the contrast between the public image of Serena up to now and the ‘reveals’ in the video are so different they’re making me giddy.