Serena Williams drew wisdom from the words of her father as she built her career: have a plan B in case tennis did not work out.
While it may be difficult to believe given her stature in the sport, the 23-time Grand Slam champion did heed the advice of her dad Richard.
"I've always seen my dad be an entrepreneur, and so it was natural for me to want to do more. He always told me, 'Have a backup plan in case tennis didn't work out,'" shared Serena Williams in Daniella Pearson's podcast Business of Feelings that was recorded prior to her retirement.
This mentality stems from their experience as Black people – Williams knows that they would not have it easy.
"I've always been someone that has been business-minded. I was just at Black Tech Week. I was speaking to them, saying, I think, in particular, Black people and African-Americans are always entrepreneurs because of what we had to live through," said Serena Williams.
"You have to work harder especially if you're not born with a lot of money. You have to think of ways just to make money in a fresh way because you're not given the same opportunities," she added.
And so, despite her winning on the biggest stages of the Grand Slams, she dedicated herself to building her backup plans. She studied fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and business management and pre-med at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
"I went to fashion school and then I actually did business school in UMass and there were a lot of things I did. Meanwhile, this is during and after winning Wimbledons and US Opens so it was kind of nuts. But I'm a planner and I like a backup plan," she said, laughing.
"I always knew I wanted to do more" - Serena Williams
Serena Williams has delivered excellence throughout her tennis career, but she revealed that it was just an addendum.
Williams, the businesswoman, was the plan from the beginning.
"I always knew I wanted to do more. I always said that my career on the court is going to be 'and she played tennis.' So it's going to be the 'and,'" said Serena Williams, who started her "evolution away from tennis" after the US Open last September.
The American thus ventured into entrepreneurship. She has her clothing and jewelry line as well as a venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, that invests in companies that "embrace diverse leadership and opportunity."
"I always wanted a different part of my career. I know that's clear that Serena Ventures is going to be the bigger part of my career, and that's kind of how I always saw it since I was a kid. Of course, I didn't know it was going to be Serena Ventures at the time, but I always knew it was going to be something else. So that's kind of how I modeled my career," she said.
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