Tennis: New Orleans rolls out the red carpet for Serena Williams' star-studded US$1m wedding

Tennis superstar Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian held their wedding ceremony at the Contemporary Arts Centre (above).
Tennis superstar Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian held their wedding ceremony at the Contemporary Arts Centre (above).PHOTO: AFP

NEW ORLEANS (AFP) - Star wattage was abound in New Orleans on Thursday (Nov 16) as A-list celebrities gathered for the wedding of tennis superstar Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Despite the media frenzy, the happy couple released few details of their ceremony.

But unnamed sources told People magazine and the Daily Mail that some 250 guests were invited to the festivities at the southern US city's Contemporary Arts Centre.

R&B singers Beyonce and Ciara, legendary Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, reality TV star Kim Kardashian and actress Eva Longoria were all also seen arriving at the arts complex.

Security for the event, anticipated to last into the wee hours, was tight.


The road outside the Contemporary Arts Museum was closed prior to the wedding of Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian. PHOTO: AFP

A steady train of black SUVs (sport utility vehicles) brought members of the wedding party to the event, as workers hurried final preparations for the festivities.

According the entertainment website ETonline, the wedding was to have a "Beauty and the Beast" theme.

It said the tennis star's sister and world No. 5 Venus was seen late on Wednesday (Nov 15) leaving the arts centre.

Workers could be seen early on Thursday transforming the arts complex for the ceremony, while the parking lot beside the building was full of tents and trucks unloading flowers, tables, carpets, wardrobe, and musicians.

The locally popular New Orleans funk and jazz band Naughty Professor was seen arriving in the late afternoon, as was the traditional Paulin Brothers Brass Band.

Chefs cooked in an outdoor tent, with feasting options including two food trucks as well as an outdoor bar.

The Daily Mail said the event would cost more than US$1 million (S$1.35 million) and guests would be asked not to bring their smartphones, because an exclusive photo deal had been signed with Vogue.


Some 250 guests were invited to the festivities at the Contemporary Arts Centre in New Orleans. PHOTO: AFP

Williams, 36, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, and Ohanian, 34, welcomed their first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, on Sept 1.

They announced their engagement in December after meeting in 2015 in Rome.

While New Orleans is no stranger to celebrities and weddings, the star wattage on Thursday stirred up extra excitement in the city.

Linda Davis and Cora Riley drove four hours from the small Louisiana town of DeRidder just to get a glimpse of the former world No. 1 and they waited outside the arts complex for hours.

"We love her. She's classy. She and Venus. They never complain," Riley told AFP. "We're so glad she found happiness. Little baby Alexis is so precious," said Mary Huber, who was among a small group who took a break from work to observe the hectic scene.

Williams won this year's Australian Open while pregnant, and is expected to defend her title in Melbourne in 2018 - just four-and-a-half months after giving birth to her child.