Who Is Michael John Fenner? New Details About Serena Williams One-Time Bodyguard Who's Facing Assault Charges

Michael Fenner has been a bodyguard to Serena Williams. Now he's facing assault charges.

Who Is Michael John Fenner? New Details Serena Williams One-Time Bodyguard Who's Facing Assault Charges Instagram

A celebrity bodyguard is in court for assaulting his former girlfriend in Australia. Michael John Fenner, a taekwondo grandmaster and bodyguard to elite athletes including Roger Federer and Serena Williams, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault earlier this week. He was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend in January 2017. Sentencing will be decided at a later time. Who is Michael Fenner? Read on for all the details.


1. Grandmaster

According to the website for his self defense academy, Fenner is a martial arts instructor and bodyguard. His bio on the website claims that he has helped train the Australian Police Forces, Australian Armed Forces, Afghanistan, Iraqi Special Forces & Military Personnel, Spanish Police & Military Personnel, Security / Body Guard personnel, Personal Security Providers and local and government agencies. He also says he has trained assault and sexual abuse victims in self defense.  He lists Brisbane International Tennis as a client to whom he has provided security services, as well as acting as a personal bodyguard to elite tennis pros such including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt and Serena Williams. He is considered one of the top three self defense instructors in the world according to his attorney.



A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Feb 3, 2019 at 6:00am PST

Serena Williams was a client.

2. Academy

The academy Fenner founded and runs offers intense self-defense training that includes hand to hand methods as well as learning to use different types of weapons. His five day survival course offers instruction in “Fitness and Endurance, CPP (Close Personal Protection), Blocking counter Striking CPP,  Knife and Gun Disarmament, Baton Training etc.” The website also describes the opportunities for ongoing training saying "Down to earth courses where you are given specific techniques and training to handle basic to advanced protective situations using valuable information instructed in this course, at a moment’s notice. A combination of close quarter situations and exercises, which will test your endurance, will power and mental focus in combat training for Close Personal Protection. Also incorporating, understanding the basic principles of training the body for Close Protection. You will be instructed using a combination of close quarter exercises, which will test your endurance, will power, and mental focus in combat training for self-protection.”



A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) on Mar 31, 2019 at 1:02pm PDT

Roger Federer was a client.

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3. Charges


The charges that landed him court stem from an argument in 2017 with a woman with whom he was romantically involved. She has not been named. According to the charges, he shoved the woman from behind, knocking her unconscious. The injury triggered effects from a past spinal issue, thus causing additional problems. Fenner claimed not to have known about the old injury. However, he assaulted the woman two more times, backhanding her once and leaving her with a black eye and pressing his thumb into the corner of her eye until she lost consciousness.



A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) on Mar 31, 2019 at 1:02pm PDT

Fenner provided security for Brisbane International Tennis.


4. Out of character

Fenner’s lawyer argued to the court that the assault was “entirely out of character” and his client was remorseful over what he had done. While he does have a previous arrest record, none of his past crimes were violent. Instead he has a dozen arrests for breaking and entering behind him.



A post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole) on Apr 18, 2019 at 12:30pm PDT

Novak Djokovic was a client.


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5. Future work

Fenner’s attorney says that the charges against him will potentially affect his business dealings. He has worked with victims of domestic abuse in the past and worries that they will no longer feel safe coming to him. One past client spoke highly of him, saying: “My daughter and I began training with Mike after a horrible domestic violence situation. The lessons are very easy to follow as Mike is a highly skilled trainer who is very patient with people of all skill levels as he makes the lessons fun instead of all just work, work, work.” On his LinkedIn profile he says “I am also the president of Purple Teddys which is a Charity Not For Profit organization where i [sic] look after ladies in Domestic Violence situations. I supply them with a house and all furniture etc for the home from the ground up. I also instruct the ladies in close personal protection which gives them confidence and self esteme [sic]."

The prosecutor on the case described the details of the charges as white unusual, particularly since the assault triggered injuries unrelated to that event. The assaults themselves were described as being “toward the lower end” in terms of objective seriousness but were nonetheless, serious charges. The judge recessed the court in order to render a decision. No work on when he will offer a sentence.



A post shared by Andy Murray (@andymurray) on Jan 14, 2019 at 8:04am PST

Andy Murray was a client.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.