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Serena Williams' husband Alexis Ohanian slams former tennis pro for criticizing her weight, age

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·4-min read

Alexis Ohanian isn’t about to sit back and let inappropriate criticism of his wife, better known as 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, go unchecked.

Ohanian took aim at Ion Țiriac, a Romanian businessman and former professional tennis player who is now the head of the Madrid Open, on Twitter this week. Tiriac criticized Williams’ age, weight and skills and said if she “had a little decency, she would retire.”

Ohanian’s takedown was perfection.

Madrid Open leader criticizes Williams

Alexis Ohanian supports Serena Williams.
Alexis Ohanian is one of Serena Williams' biggest supporters. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Țiriac, 81, launched his critique while on the Romanian show “Network of Idols.”

Via UBI Tennis:

“At this age and the weight she is now, she does not move as easily as he did 15 years ago,” Tiriac said. “Serena was a sensational player. If she had a little decency, she would retire! From all points of view.”

Țiriac, a former No. 8 ranked world tennis player, has made comments about Williams, her age and her weight previously. In 2018 he said he wanted new personalities in tennis rather than Williams.

“With all due respect, but Serena Williams is 36 (years old) and 90 kilograms (198 pounds). I would like to see something else, I would like to see a player like Steffi Graf,” he said via a German newspaper.

Williams was asked about those comments in an interview with the New York Times and said while everyone is entitled to their opinion, the comments were ignorant and sexist.

Ohanian hits back at ‘racist/sexist clown’

This time it was Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and part of the NWSL’s Angel City ownership group, who immediately took to Twitter and slammed the comments.

His first was a reply to the article posted by Portuguese journalist José Morgado. Morgado commented on Twitter, “Safe to say Serena will never play Madrid again...”

Ohanian’s response: “Safe to say no one gives a damn what Ion Țiriac thinks.”

His ensuing response was gold.

“Had to Google it...turns out my 3 year old has more Grand Slam victories than this [clown emoji],” he wrote.

Țiriac never won a Grand Slam in men’s singles during his playing time in the 1970s. He did win the French Open in men’s doubles in 1970.

Williams was about eight weeks pregnant with their daughter, Olympia, when she won the 2017 Australian Open. She is still attempting to break the record for Grand Slam victories and has come close a handful of times, only to meet players highly driven to beat the tennis legend.

Ohanian explained why he got involved in the issue in a separate tweet, calling Țiriac a “racist/sexist clown with a platform” who went after his family.

Williams doesn’t appear to have commented on the controversy, though she did post to Instagram as Ohanian’s comments began circulating. She sent her own shade at people questioning if she’s really interested in training and tennis anymore in a post last week on Instagram.

Williams still at top of game

Williams’ pregnancy was not an easy one. She detailed the weeks-long medical ordeal that followed the birth and had a total of three surgeries. Her return to tennis was long and arduous. And as for any woman who has given birth, her body after having a baby isn’t the same. It’s not worse, just not the same.

Not to mention the efforts that go into raising a baby, particularly during a pandemic, and doing it at an age when many athletes are already years deep into their retirement. No, peak athleticism doesn’t last forever.

Still she has returned to tennis and played well while reaching five Grand Slam finals. If that’s not still “sensational,” Țiriac should explain what he deems that word to mean. We’d love to hear it.

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