The third of five children, Serevi was born in Suva, on the island of Viti Levu on 20 May 1968. He was raised by staunch Christian parents who were both heavily involved in the Church. Serevi's inspiration to play rugby stemmed from his childhood, when Fiji defeated the British Lions in 1977. He missed watching the match, and decided to take up rugby after seeing how happy the victory made the people of Fiji.
His family moved twice when he was a child; the second time settling in Suva where Serevi started secondary school. There he attended Lelean Memorial School. His schooling was unsuccessful however, and he failed his Fiji Junior Certificate Examination (tenth year) in 1984. Serevi's blamed his love for rugby, saying he "played too much and didn't spend enough time studying."
After failing his examinations Serevi quit school and continued to play for his local club Rewa. Although he trained with the team, he was omitted from playing as the coach, Jo Rauto, thought he was too small and would get hurt. He was eventually selected to play for the senior provincial side when he was 17. Several months later he was asked to join the Nabua Rugby Club (under the guidance of coach Ratu Kitione Tuibua) by his uncle Vesito Rauluni. Serevi's Nabua team were highly successful in Fiji's sevens tournaments.[4
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