Alexis Ohanian divides opinion as he ‘shades’ Maria Sharapova with T-shirt at Serena Williams US Open match

'This man brought a bouquet of fresh cut petty'

Alexis Ohanian on day one at the 2019 US Open, Monday 26 August
Alexis Ohanian on day one at the 2019 US Open, Monday 26 August

Alexis Ohanian has sparked an online debate after seemingly "shading" tennis player Maria Sharapova with his choice of T-shirt during her straight-sets defeat to Serena Williams at the 2019 US Open.

On Monday 26 August, Williams and Sharapova faced each other at Flushing Meadows for the first round of the tennis tournament.

Ohanian, Williams' husband and co-founder of social news website Reddit, supported his wife from the stands, wearing a bomber jacket, a pair of jeans and a black slogan T-shirt.

Several tennis fans were quick to notice that the slogan on Ohanian's T-shirt read "D.A.R.E.", in reference to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education programme in America.

This led some to speculate that the entrepreneur's apparel was chosen in direct reference to Sharapova's failed drug test in 2016, which resulted in the Russian tennis player receiving a two-year ban from the sport.

While several Twitter users praised Ohanian's choice of T-shirt – describing him as being "supportive" of Williams and demonstrating a "petty kind of love" – others criticised the 36-year-old for acting in a "disrespectful" manner towards Sharapova.

"I stan @alexisohanian this is next level shade," one person tweeted.

"Inconspicuous but well played sir."

"This is true love. Some men buy flowers. Some men buy gifts. This man brought a bouquet of fresh cut petty," another wrote.

However, someone else stated that in their opinion, wearing the T-shirt to the match was an "appalling" thing for Ohanian to do.

"He's not how real men support their wives," they continued.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova shake hands following their first round match at the 2019 US Open

Williams' victory against Sharapova at the 2019 US Open marked her 19th consecutive win against the 32-year-old.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner beat Sharapova 6-1 6-1 in a match which lasted just under an hour.

Williams will face fellow American tennis player Catherine McNally in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Williams had topped Forbes' list of highest-paid female athletes for the fourth year in a row.

In the 12 months leading up to 1 June, the 37-year-old earned $29.2m (£24m), of which around 14 per cent was prize money.

In July, the tennis star was featured in the fourth annual Sports Illustrated Fashionable 50 list.

Williams graced the cover of the magazine shortly after her Wimbledon women's singles final loss to Simona Halep.

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In May last year, Williams announced the launch of her eponymous clothing line.

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