Her parents hope that by the time she turns 18 the world will be a fairer and more equitable place, a world in which women – and black women, like her – will not wonder why they are denied opportunities and they will. get paid what they’re worth.
If Alexis Olympia wants to learn coding and work in the tech industry, her dad will teach her – this is Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of social news website, Reddit.
Ohanian and Williams married in 2016; a year later, their daughter was born. They’ve just teamed up again to nurture a new creation – they are major investors in a team that will join the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2022. The Los Angeles-based team has been dubbed “Angel City”.
Speaking to CNN, Ohanian opened up about how he now sees his role in the world after marrying a global female icon.
“I had a front row seat to know how different it is and how much she’s worked not just as a woman, but as a black woman,” he said.
Now that he has a baby girl, he is determined to help the cause.
“Olympia will not question everything Serena has done to make this world a better place for Olympia. I want to sit at this table when Olympia is a little older and feel that I have done my part too,” said he adds.
‘I don’t know how she does that’
As the winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles and one of the most dominant athletes – in any sport – over the past two decades, no one can question Williams’ achievements.
The narrative has always been that she was an outsider, struggling to come up the streets of Compton, just south of Los Angeles, to challenge the hierarchy of a traditionally elite white sport.
There has been some notable friction along the way. In the 2001 Indian Wells Finals, Williams’ father Richard and older sister Venus were booed as they walked to their seats ahead of the Finals, with Richard telling USA Today he was victim of racial abuse.
More than once during our interview, Ohanian referred to the invisible challenges faced by female and black athletes.
“I don’t know how she does it,” he says of his wife, Serena, who has had to endure prejudice on both fronts, including a growing trend of abuse these figures are now receiving on social media.
Recently, several prominent English Premier League soccer players informed CNN about the toxicity which is transmitted directly to their inboxes.
“I’m even afraid to check my direct messages. They could be filled with anything. For black footballers, being on Instagram isn’t even fun anymore.”
As one of the leading figures in the tech world, Ohanian has witnessed the rise of hate speech on the internet; as Serena’s husband he has observed the damage this can cause. For professional athletes, who deserve every ounce of their success and should be able to celebrate as a result, it’s heartbreaking.
He says these athletes “didn’t get here just because their dad gave them the job and they’re now CEOs. This is where we as humanity hope to see the best of us shine and then celebrate it.
He added: “It’s incredibly disheartening and disheartening to see the evils of this situation making the experience so bad for people who have clearly excelled.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in May, a racial awakening swept the globe; Ohanian recognizes that he has a key role to play in this movement. As such, he resigned his position on the Reddit board, urging the company he co-founded to replace him with a black candidate.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “I think resigning may actually be an act of leadership on the part of those in power. I say this as a father who must be able to respond to his black daughter when she asks, ‘What have you done? “He continued,” It’s too late to do the right thing. I do it for myself, for my family and for my country. “
In addition, Ohanian donated $ 1 million to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, an empowerment awareness campaign. Ohanian says quarterback Kaepernick, who was the first prominent athlete to take a knee in protesting police brutality, is a friend.
While major social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all say they don’t tolerate abusive hate speech on their platforms, all are accused of not doing enough to stop it.
Ohanian feels that change is coming soon, whether he likes it or not.
He told CNN that he funded a company called Sentropy that is building artificial intelligence to help fight this hate and harassment, “because humans alone can’t moderate it. We’re going to need software. to lighten the burden. “
He says Premier League players, in particular, appear to be targeted for this type of abuse and that artificial intelligence tools are being created which will allow consumers to control what they see.
“The best thing, obviously, would be to work directly with the platforms. But they have different speeds to adopt technology like this.”
In the meantime, he predicts that consumers will invariably be drawn to small social media networks, which are based on the common interest of the community. “Users are absolutely done with this toxicity.
“The vast majority of people actually have better things to do and are better humans than that. [But] with this technology it is very, very possible for a small number of people to have a disproportionate impact; they are capable of doing a lot of damage and creating a lot of trouble. “
The conversation returns to the sport, and while Ohanian has always been a huge NFL and NBA fan, he makes a startling confession about the sport Serena dominated: “I hated tennis until i meet my wife so i am a quick learner!
“As a sports fan all my life then someone who has a front row seat for [see] what it really takes, i have a new appreciation for its intensity.
“I thought we were working hard in tech. I really did. I was naively thinking, ‘Oh, we’re the hardest-working industry,’ which is a total farce. What professional athletes do mentally. and physically, day in and day out, it’s just another level. “
Future tennis star?
At 37, Ohanian still has many years ahead of him; but if he wants to change the world for his daughter, he already has his eye on the calendar: “I’m 16, or so, to have enough impact,” he told CNN.
It remains to be seen what kind of role Olympia will want to play when she finally comes of age. Will she be an athlete, a tech star, an investor or an entrepreneur?
“I would love for my daughter to be a CEO and a startup founder,” he says, adding that any career could and should be on the table.
“I would love for her to be a professional athlete. Serena admits that when she sees Olympia running with a soccer ball, having fun with me, she gets a little jealous. But don’t worry, Olympia is really great with a racquet, too. “
Alexis Ohanian is a successful man who found himself living in a world of women; as an investor in ‘Angel City’ he’s pretty much a weird man and – despite Forbes’ estimate that his net worth in 2019 was $ 70 million – he’s not the primary breadwinner at home. And he absolutely agrees with that.
“I can see the impact that Serena and [her sister] Venus has got over so many people all over the world, and it’s humbling. “
Meanwhile, his association with the Williams family has also changed the way the world sees him.
“Ten years ago I was arrested for being ‘the Reddit guy’ and it made me feel good. And then a few years later people would come up with their startups because they knew I was investing and it was fun, but then a few years ago people started yelling at me, “Alexis, I love your wife! ” And, you know, that’s obviously a great feeling too. “
For young Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., at least, the future is in very good hands.