MELBOURNE — These days, Serena Williams is definitely not the most visible member of her family, except for when she’s on a court in front of 15,000 or so fans.
In social media circles, Serena’s husband, Alexis, and even her daughter, Alexis Olympia, are far more in the forefront. But even they’re taking a backseat to allow @realqaiqai shine in the family spotlight.
If you’re saying, “Qai, Qai, who is that?” you must not be a bona fide Williams fan. Anyone who follows the 23-time Grand Slam champion knows that Qai Qai, pronounced Qwai Qwai, is Serena’s daughter Olympia’s most cherished doll.
Qai Qai is seen everywhere the family goes and even has her own official Instagram page. She currently has over 87,000 followers, has made 68 posts, and even follows a few people, including aunt Venus.
As for Qai Qai’s profile, it describes her as “daughter and best friend of @OlympiaOhanian” as well as granddaughter of @SerenaWilliams and @AlexisOhanian.
And don’t think that the family are the only ones currently going Qai Qai crazy. On Tuesday, the official WTA tour Instagram page posted a video of Qai Qai riding the electronic umpire chair used here at the Australian Open. Clearly, the doll was hoping to umpire grandma Serena’s match.
Williams actually seemed most excited with questions about the origins of Qai Qai during her post-match interview session after beating Tatjana Maria of Germany 6-0, 6-2 in the first-round on Tuesday.
“Qai Qai is a doll I got her,” said Williams, of the toy for Olympia. “I wanted her to have a black doll. Growing up, I didn’t have that many opportunities to have black dolls. And I was just thinking, like, I want her first doll to be black. And her (Olympia) heritage, obviously she’s mixed, she’s Caucasian and black, but I feel like that was her first doll and I said her second doll would be Caucasian.
“I definitely want to always teach her love and teach her just basic human — humans should always have love for each other, no matter what color they are.”
There’s no denying that Williams has figured out traveling with a 17-month-old doesn’t equate to an easy lifestyle. Now that Olympia is walking and always on the move, life has become even more hectic for the Williams-Ohanian traveling troupe.
“It’s definitely different to travel with a toddler as opposed to a baby,” Williams said. “Infants, I think are easier, and everyone said it’s easier. I didn’t quite understand. Olympia takes a lot more attention now.”
Williams admits the responsibility that comes along with motherhood has somewhat changed how she conducts her career business to make sure family is first-and-foremost.
“Spending a lot of time with my daughter. I think that’s the priority for me,” she said. “I feel like literally every moment I get I practice, and then I go home. It’s kind of what I do in Florida. I train and I go right home and I spend the rest of the day with my daughter.
“For now, as a working mom, I feel guilty,” she added. “And I understand that that’s normal, but — and these are years I’ll never get back. I just try to spend every moment that I can when I’m not working with her. And for me that’s super important.”
In the big picture, Williams has absolutely no regrets. Motherhood, she believes, is worth all the effort.
“It’s really cool to be a mom and to be her mom, in particular,” said Williams, assessing her multi-faceted role in the world. “I feel really special.”