Serena Williams on getting daughter Olympia, 3, into tennis during pandemic: ‘We can’t sit in a house all day’

Serena Williams on getting daughter Olympia, 3, into tennis during pandemic: 'We can't sit in a house all day'

Serena Williams, here with Olympia in Jan. 2020 after winning the ASB Classic in New Zealand, opens up about finding joy on and off the tennis court. (Photo: Getty Images)

Serena Williams is one of the most famous people the planet, but even she can’t escape pandemic parenting problems… like how you entertain a toddler inside for a year. Luckily for Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., her mom just happens to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, so they have options.

In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Williams says COVID-19 expedited 3-year-old Olympia’s training.

“Really, the reason I started getting her into tennis a lot is because it’s the only thing we could do that’s socially distant,” Williams explains. “It’s been a year of having to be distant, so I’m like — we can’t sit in a house all day with a 2-year-old, she was 2 at the time she started playing. We can’t put her in soccer or any other stuff. So we were like, this makes a lot of sense.”

Williams’s social media posts with Olympia often go viral as fans love seeing the athlete’s mini-me on the court. She admits it’s “fun” watching her out there, too.

“She likes it,” Williams says, laughing, “She’s good at twirling when she hits the ball.”

But Williams won’t pressure Olympia into following in her famous footsteps. She just wants her daughter to find her joy growing up, a concept the superstar explores in Michelob ULTRA’s new Super Bowl commercial. The 60-second spot “Happy” considers whether joy leads to success, or success leads to joy. According to Williams, she “absolutely” struggled early on in her career realizing the two were connected.

“I needed to learn how to have fun. You know, my whole life has been tennis so I didn’t really know that you could have fun. After I won my first U.S. Open, for a celebration, I went to a movie at the movie theater,” she laughs. “So, I clearly needed to learn how to have fun! Of course, I was 17 at the time, but it was years and years before I learned that I could have, you know, nice celebrations.”

Williams, who has 23 Grand Slam singles titles, says she agrees with Michelob ULTRA’s belief that joy is an equally important ingredient in the journey to winning

“You win because you are happy,” she explains. “By default of that, you’re happy because you win. For me, you can’t go out and win anything if you’re unhappy. You won’t be able to perform. It’s a great question to ask, it’s a fun ad to be apart of because it talks about having a lighter side while we still work extremely hard. You work hard, have a bit of a moment where you have a light side within reason always, and then you go back to working hard. It’s super important to have balance in your life.”

These days, Williams, who is married to Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, says she finds joy “hanging out with my family.” (Including, learning during quarantine that her husband “is great at making pancakes.”)

“Hanging out with Olympia takes most of my time, but that’s still fun for me,” she explains.

The family has also had fun exploring new business opportunities. Last year, Olympia became the youngest team owner in pro sports as she’s a part investor in the National Women’s Soccer League’s new expansion team in Los Angeles, called Angel City. Williams, who invested alongside her daughter and husband, gave Ohanian credit for that idea.

“That was actually all my husband,” she says. “He just really wanted Olympia — I mean, I’m pushing tennis for everything — but he obviously is pushing different things, and he really wanted Olympia to have an opportunity to have ownership in a company, and then he said I should do it too. We talked about it a lot and he was able to convince me to do the deal, so that was really fun. That’s honestly all him.”

Williams may be “pushing tennis,” but ultimately, she says it’s up to Olympia whether to pursue the sport. “Whatever she wants [to do].”

You can watch Williams in Michelob ULTRA’s Super Bowl commercial below:

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