Inside Serena Williams' Relationship History

Serena Williams is a queen both on and off the tennis court, but it surprisingly took her some time to find her king. Long before she crossed paths with now-husband Alexis Ohanian, the tennis phenom — who holds a whopping 23 Grand Slam women's singles titles — dated a few famous faces. Among them are men in the tennis world, an A-list rapper, and even a disgraced Hollywood director. She also was rumored to have ties to quite a few pro athletes, from basketball stars Corey Magette and Amar'e Stoudemire to NFL player Keyshawn Johnson. But it would be a man in the tech world, the co-founder of the website Reddit, who would eventually sweep her off her feet. 

Of the men she's dated over the years, Williams reflected on how she ended up with Ohanian while speaking to The New York Times in 2020. The star shared, "Ultimately I wanted to be with someone who treated me nice, someone who was able to laugh with me and someone who understood my life and someone that loved me ... and you know, I'm sure there are other people out there. But you know, Alexis is the one I connected with, and I wouldn't have it any other way." 

Now take a look back at the men Williams was linked to before making it official with Ohanian.

LaVar Arrington

Serena Williams' first relationship in the public eye dates way back to 2000 when she was first linked to an NFL football player named LaVar Arrington. Arrington was a linebacker for the Washington Redskins, and at the time his athletic prowess rivaled the tennis star's. The football star had been the second draft pick in the 2000 NFL Draft and was making a name for himself in the league. 

It wasn't until September 2001 that romance rumors really started to swirl, when he was spotted at the U.S. Open cheering for Williams for the second year in a row. But just two months later, while speaking to The Washington Post in December, Arrington shut down the speculation, responding firmly, "No she is not my girlfriend, just my friend." The couple reportedly split a few months later in April 2002.

Williams' 2009 book, "On The Line," contains a vague mention of the relationship. In the book, Williams doesn't reference Arrington by name but speaks about an awful breakup assumed to be theirs, writing, "[This] guy tore my heart in half. Then he ripped those pieces and stepped on them and backed his car up over them. And the worst part was he left me thinking it was me" (via The Globe and Mail).

Brett Ratner

Serena Williams dated Brett Ratner – best known for directing blockbuster films like "X-Men," "Rush Hour," and "Horrible Bosses" — from 2004 until 2006. Though the pairing was definitely strange, combining the worlds of sports and Hollywood, their union was serious enough that Ratner was included in some of Williams' professional life. Williams and her sister Venus Williams starred on an ABC family reality show in 2005, entitled "Venus and Serena: For Real," and Ratner showed up a few times as her boyfriend. 

Their relationship made news again in 2017 when a particularly cringe-worthy clip resurfaced that year following accusations against Ratner of sexual harassment and misconduct by six actresses. Per E! News, which shared the footage from the reality show, Ratner is seen touching Williams as she watches her sister's tennis match, saying, "Give me some love. Show me that you care." Williams is clearly uncomfortable and even tells him, "You're being very disturbing." 

Later on in the episode, Williams seems to cut things off, sharing, "We don't have a relationship. It's too bad it didn't work out between us." To that, Ratner mockingly asks, "Is this the breakup episode?" Despite the animosity, the couple reportedly continued to date through 2006.


From 2007 until 2010, Serena Williams was linked to musician Common. Though the famous couple kept things pretty quiet, Williams did appear in Common's 2007 music video "I Want You," alongside other stars Kerry Washington and Alicia Keys. 

They reportedly dated for over two years, and were spotted together in 2008 holding hands in Miami, with sources telling People they were intimate and "affectionate." That same year, when asked about Common, Williams stayed tight-lipped, only calling him a "great guy," 

While appearing on the "Rickey Smiley Morning Show" in 2014, Common confirmed that they had been together and had since split, stating, "Me and Serena was together. We broke up." And in 2015, Common once again opened up about his relationship with Williams, even revealing who ended things while speaking to host Meredith Vieira on "The Meredith Vieira Show." Common shared, "It eventually was a mutual breakup, but she initiated it ... It's okay though, for me we got a great understanding and I care about her as a person." The two remained amicable years after they ended things. They even teamed up in 2016 for an ESPN interview titled, "The Undefeated In-Depth: Serena with Common," during which the two sat down and discussed topics ranging from racism, life in the spotlight, and the difficulties of being a female athlete.

Grigor Dimitrov

Friendly exes? Back in the early 2010s, Serena Williams was widely rumored to be dating fellow tennis star Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian tennis player and Williams never confirmed a romantic relationship, but rumors started when the athletes were seen practicing together that year. The proof that the athletes may have been more than friends would come later when Williams was asked to talk about Dimitrov's newest flame, Maria Sharapova, who also happened to be one of her biggest tennis rivals. 

In a profile for Rolling Stone in 2013, shortly after Dimitrov and Sharapova were confirmed to be an item, Williams seemed to make reference to their relationship. When Venus Williams called her younger sister in the middle of the interview and the two started chatting, the outlet reported that the tennis icon didn't mince words about a certain "top-five player," whom they alleged to be Sharapova. They reported Serena said, "There are people who live, breathe and dress tennis. I mean, seriously, give it a rest. She begins every interview with 'I'm so happy. I'm so lucky' — it's so boring ...  And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it." 

Yikes! Fortunately, it later seemed any bad blood between Williams and Dimitrov was repaired, as the duo were seen training together in 2021.

Patrick Mouratoglou

World-renowned tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou started coaching Serena Williams in 2012. The pair made an amazing team for a decade until 2022 when Williams decided to take a break from the sport. And as they worked together so closely, rumors swirled that they were an item throughout the first few years. 

In 2013, Williams' rival Maria Sharapova seemed to reference their relationship in an interview with The Guardian. The outlet reported that Sharapova, angry about Williams' jabs in Rolling Stone about her own relationship with Williams' ex Grigor Dimitrov, said, "If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids." In response, Mouratoglou refused to confirm the romance, stating, "I don't think anything about it [what Sharapova said]. My role is to think about tennis and to help Serena be the best she can be and do what she wants to achieve. I'm just here for tennis."

Suspicion of their romance continued through 2015, when, after her win at Wimbledon, Williams posted numerous photos with Mouratoglou to her Instagram, along with a shoutout in the caption that read, "So happy @patrickmouratoglou could make this #Wimbledon dinner. He missed the last. Thanks Patrick for your perseverance and non stop belief and faith in me." But the rumors would be put to rest later that year when she started dating her future husband, Alexis Ohanian.


In a fitting pairing, one of the best athletes in the world, Serena Williams, was once linked to one of the most famous rappers in the world, Drake. Their relationship first made headlines when Drake sat courtside in 2011 to watch one of her matches, which was quickly followed by a suggestive tweet from the rapper that read, "@serenawilliams I cannot wait to put it on you and make you sweat [.....] during our match this weekend." 

The two were rumored to have a brief fling in 2012, but it wasn't until 2015 that they really sparked romance rumors. That year Drake was proudly in attendance as Williams won one of the most famous tennis championships in the world, Wimbledon. He also showed up to support her at various other tennis matches. That August, the two were caught by TMZ kissing at a restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

As suddenly as their romance blossomed, it seemed to fizzle out just as quickly. The pair went their separate ways, with Williams making it official with her future husband, Alexis Ohanian, later that year. But even though they didn't work out romantically, Drake and Williams seem to have remained friends — with Drake even supporting his ex at Wimbledon in 2018. 

Alexis Ohanian

When it comes to Serena Williams' one true love, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, their romance started with a pretty endearing meet-cute. Williams reflected on their first meeting in a 2017 Vanity Fair interview, revealing that they crossed paths at a hotel in Rome in 2015. "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?'" Williams recollected, referring to how Ohanian sat next to her during breakfast. She told the outlet their first date was in Paris, France, and that it included a trip to the Eiffel Tower. By that September Ohanian was in the stands cheering her on at the US Open (and even raved about her on Instagram!). 

Williams announced their engagement in December 2016, and welcomed their first child, daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, in September 2017. Two months later, they made things official and wed in a luxurious New Orleans, Louisiana wedding ceremony. Most recently, the happy couple welcomed another member to their family, daughter Adira River Ohanian, in August 2023. Williams opened up to The New York Times about the perfect match she found in Ohanian, sharing, "I'm an athlete. He's a business guy. I'm Black. He's White. We are totally opposite. I think we just complement each other. I think we understand hard work in different ways."