Serena Williams explains why dad didn't walk her down aisle at wedding

By Alex Butler  |  May 16, 2018 at 10:32 AM
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May 16 (UPI) -- Serena Williams gave a behind-the-scenes look at her wedding and detailed her relationship with father Richard Williams in the newest episode of Being Serena.

Chapter 3: Family airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday on HBO. The highlight of the episode is the star-studded Nov. 16 event. Venus Williams, Eva Longoria, Beyonce, Jay Z, Anna Wintour, Kim Kardashian and others attended the big day, but Richard was nowhere to be seen.

Williams said he texted her an hour before the ceremony in New Orleans, La.

"I think I got the text from my dad like an hour before the wedding was supposed to start," she said. "He was in New Orleans. He had a suit. And I know he was really excited."

"But then he wrote me and said: 'Serena, I don't want you to be mad at me, but I just cant walk you down the aisle. I'm not myself anymore. I'm too nervous."

"I wrote right back and I said: 'Daddy, It's OK. If you don't want to come to the wedding at all, that's OK too. I'm not going to be upset with you about it, so I don't want you to be upset about it."

Williams ended up walking down the aisle at the Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans by herself, gracefully pacing along to How Far I'll Go by Auli'i Cravalho, popularized by the movie Moana. Violinists performed the song.

"Maybe a lot of daughters wouldn't react the same way, but I know the struggles [Richard] has had these last few years," Williams said. "His health is better now, but I know he still doesn't feel like himself. He doesn't feel like he's perfect. If he doesn't want to be out there in front of a lot of people, I completely understand."

She called the wedding one of the best days of her entire life and "nowhere near the tennis court." Williams and husband Alexis Ohanian danced with a choreographer at a rehearsal and gave toasts at a rehearsal dinner served by Emeril Lagasse before the main event.

Richard Williams, father of Serena Williams, smiles as he watches his daughter at the 2002 US Open in Flushing Meadows, New York. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI

"This was definitely expert mode," Ohanian said. "Getting married at the same time as having a kid, but I'm very excited," Ohanian said, referring to the Sept. 1 birth of daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

The episode later cut back to Richard, as Williams explained what it was like growing up alongside her sister, fellow tennis star Venus Williams, and learning the game of tennis under her father's watchful eyes.

"Look, when we first came on the scene, there were a lot of people who didn't get him," Williams said. "I don't think a lot of them wanted to get him. I don't think a lot of them could have anyway. Our family knows what we have. We just want each other to be happy and that's what matters. And nothing is every going to change that."

Clips of Richard coaching the dominant duo flickered on the screen. One of them included Richard comparing a young Serena to a 97-year-old during a tennis session.

Dance with new edition? Check ✅. 📸: Bob Metelus and Erica Rodriguez

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

After vows were exchanged, the episode showed Richard back on the court, watching his daughters sharpen their skills. He referenced Serena getting back to the No. 1 ranking, but Williams wasn't having it. She prioritizes winning more Grand Slam titles.

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