Simone Biles says her wedding was better than first Olympic win

Starring on her first Vanity Fair cover, Simone Biles opened up about her career, return to gymnastics, and new marriage to Jonathan Owens.

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(Photo Credit: Adrienne Racquel/Vanity Fair)

At just 26 years old, Simone Biles has broken a series of records and originated gymnastics maneuvers others dare not attempt. Recently returned to the sport after a self-imposed hiatus, Biles took a break from her rigorous training to star on the cover of Vanity Fair’s latest issue and reflect on her journey thus far. 

In recent months, Biles has made headlines, not only for her presumed return to the Olympic stage but her love life. In April 2023, Biles married NFL safety Jonathan Owens in a courthouse ceremony and subsequent celebration in Cabo, Mexico in May. Despite their headline-making destination wedding, recent interest has turned to the couple’s “meet-cute” story following Owens’ appearance on “The Pivot” podcast

“So literally, [I] had been on [private networking app Raya] for a couple of days, man, and it’s like she pops up, and I’m like, ‘Let me see who this is’ … I had never really paid attention to gymnastics, so it piqued my curiosity,” said Owens on the podcast. 

Due to mass disbelief that Owens did not know who Biles was before dating her, the clip went viral, becoming the centerpiece of social media debates. In her interview, both Biles and Owens shared more details about their relationship and how they manage a long-distance marriage. 

“I had just broken up [with someone], and my friend was like, ‘Get on Raya, get on Raya.’ My guard went straight up when she said dating site,” Biles told Vanity Fair, revealing that she and Owens matched within her first week on the app. “The second week, I met him in person, and the rest is history. We were hooked.” 

“If I’m going to be honest, obviously he’s very fine, [but] besides his looks, he was so sweet and kind, and I think what I liked about him was his confidence. He truly believes he’s the best at everything,” she added. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life. I was 19 when I won my first Olympics, and I was like, How am I supposed to top this? My wedding topped it. It was the greatest feeling ever.” 

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Though her husband may have been ignorant of her worldwide acclaim, as of today, Biles is the most decorated gymnast in history. During her ongoing career, she has won seven Olympic medals and 30 World Championship medals, with 27 gold medals across both categories. Describing her rise to fame as “exciting, intense, and a bit disorienting,” Biles explained some of the complexities of fame. 

“I think everyone wants to be famous, and then when it happens, you almost hit a wall, and you have an identity crisis. You’re like, ‘Am I made out for this? Why did I wish for this?’” she said. “I’m not saying that [people] scream and line up like I’m Taylor Swift, [but] I still get a lot of attention. When five people come up to me, and they’re rushing for a photo, I just get a little flustered. My anxiety kicks in.”

Having experienced tremendous highs and emotional lows, Biles stepped away from competing professionally during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to cater to mental health concerns. While some fans criticized the athlete for taking a mental health break, others praised her decision, positioning Biles as an example of what to do in a crisis. 

“I was not okay with that […] I wish I could sit here and tell you it was glorious,” said Biles, reflecting on her time off following the Tokyo Olympics. “When I took a break after 2016, I had the time of my life. I was doing anything and everything. But after 2020, it was kind of depressing until I started therapy and got help. I felt like a failure. Even though I was empowering so many people and speaking out about mental health, every time I talked about my experience in Tokyo — because it obviously didn’t go the way that I had planned — it stung a little bit.” 

Understanding that it was the best decision, Biles has since been in therapy and continues to take her prescribed anxiety medication. Now, the star gymnast is preparing to return to the sport with a better mindset. Back on a rigorous regimen, Biles says she’s keeping things fun when training. Similarly, she has shaken some of the pressure off her shoulders when it comes to participating in the Paris Olympics this summer. 

“If I don’t make it to Paris, it won’t absolutely crush me,” she explained. 

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