The tennis pro, 36, revealed on the Wednesday, May 16, episode of her HBO docuseries, Being Serena, that her father, Richard Williams, pulled out of walking her down the aisle via text message an hour before she married Alexis Ohanian in New Orleans in November.
“He was in New Orleans, he had a suit, and I know he was really excited,” she explained. “But then he wrote me and said, ‘Serena, I don’t want you to be mad at me, but I just can’t walk you down the aisle. I’m not myself anymore. I’m just too nervous.’”
Serena didn’t take it to heart. “Daddy, it’s OK,” she responded. “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.”
The athlete — who shares daughter Alexis Jr., 8 months, with the Reddit cofounder, 35 — was more worried about her father’s well-being than walking down the aisle alone.
“I know the struggles he’s had these last few years. His health is better now, but I know he still doesn’t feel like himself, doesn’t feel like he’s perfect,” she explained. “And if he doesn’t want to be up there in front of a lot of people, I completely understand. … Our family knows what we have. We just want each other to be happy. That’s what matters. I don’t think anything could ever change that.”
The episode aired just one day before Serena’s close friend Meghan Markle announced that her own father, Thomas Markle, will not be in attendance at her wedding to Prince Harry in England on Saturday, May 19. Thomas, 73, underwent a successful heart surgery on Wednesday, May 16, and cannot travel overseas.
“Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health,” the Suits alum, 36, said in a statement via Kensington Palace on Thursday, May 17. “I would like to thank everyone who has offered generous messages of support. Please know how much Harry and I look forward to sharing our special day with you on Saturday.”
Serena is expected to be among the 600 guests in attendance at the royal wedding.
Being Serena airs on HBO Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.