Serena Williams has led the ranking charts not only on the tennis courts but also on the list of the highest earning female athletes in the world. With the level of growth her brand, personal ventures and businesses have seen, Williams could be on the path to becoming the first female athlete billionaire.
‘How she got here?’ isn’t a question many people would ask, having seen Williams climb the stairs of glory before their very eyes. However, it is worth diving deep into the adroit choices made by the champion en route to her financial success.
Following in her sister Venus’ footsteps, the younger Williams entered the sporting scene when having women of color play on the biggest stages was a relatively new concept.
A rise in her on-court victories meant a rise in her earnings outside the court. Soon Serena Williams became one of the most marketable female athletes.
Williams, initially sponsored by Puma, signed a multi-million-dollar contract with Nike in 2003. From there on, her endorsement portfolio has only flourished. Serena has associated herself with the likes of Audemars Pigment, Beast by Dre, Chase Bank, Intel, Pepsi, Bumble, IBM, Upper Deck, and many more.
Throughout her career, the American has stayed loyal to her racquet-maker, Wilson.
Her flair for good undertakings does not stop there. Williams has been diligent with her investments. Recently, Andrew Petcash gave a factual break down of Williams’ top investments. The legendary sportswoman has scored big by funding key enterprises such as Olly, Andela, Tonal, UFC and the Miami Dolphins.
The tennis superstar has also launched her own clothing line, S by Serena, and has also set foot in the jewelry space with Serena Williams Jewelry.
In 2014, she founded her own venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which aims to invest in startups whose perspectives and innovations level the playing field for women and people of color.
Serena Williams' investment firm has backed a plethora of startups such as Masterclass, Impossible Foods, Daily Harvest, Calico AI, Chat Desk, and Foody, to name a few.
Williams has said she wants to serve a purpose and make a difference through her initiatives. Out of all Serena Ventures’ investments thus far, 76% of the founders have been under-represented, 53% have been women, 47%- black while 12% have been Latino.
Speaking to Insider, the 40-year-old emphasized the struggles faced by women and people of color to even take the first leap towards their ambitions and goals.
“The only way that people can get funding is if people like me, women and people of color, are actually writing the checks,” Williams said. “Otherwise it's going to be the same boys’ club, except not for a lot of Black people.”
The Grand Slam champion has also expressed how people’s skepticism about her abilities has truly proved to be a driving force for her.
"Whether it's venture or tennis when people said I'll never be good at it, there's a part of me that always will enjoy proving people wrong.”
Not to forget, William’s primary earnings have been on the tennis courts. She has 73 singles titles to her name and 23 doubles titles. Out of them, 23 have been Grand Slam singles and 14 are Grand Slam doubles titles. Having turned pro in 1995, Serena Williams has won $94 million through prize money, the highest for any woman in the Open Era.
Serena Williams recently headlined the Black Tech Week in Cincinnati
“My dad was always an entrepreneur...My dad was a dreamer. I think I became a big dreamer like him. Sometimes when you live in Compton you have to be an entrepreneur, because you may not have opportunity. It’s important to have that dream.”
“Naturally I started investing in early stage, which was interesting to me. I really like helping shape companies, guiding them, how they think, how they hire. It’s the first hire, the first 10-20 hires that make a difference.”
Williams also disclosed that she is looking forward to exploring new avenues and is willing to invest in healthcare and B2B. She also plans to be further associated with web3 and cryptocurrency.
Things are definitely looking up for the tennis legend who is gearing up for life outside tennis courts. Through her viable financial journey, ‘Serena Williams – The first female athlete billionaire’ is a realistic prospect.