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Serena Williams is retiring from tennis to focus on other businesses. Here’s a look at her empire

Off the court, Serena Williams has become a major force in the business world with her VC firm, Serena Ventures.

Serena Williams is retiring from tennis to focus on other businesses. Here’s a look at her empire
[Source Images: Robert Prange/Getty]

As dominating as Serena Williams has been in the tennis world, she’s also become a major force in terms of business. So while Tuesday’s announcement, in a Vogue cover story, that she would be “evolving away” from the sport after the U.S. Open was a surprise, her plans to stay focused on venture capital and other ventures made perfect sense.

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The 23-time Grand Slam champion (and one of Fast Company’s Most Productive People) heads Serena Ventures, which raised $111 million in an inaugural funding round earlier this year. The venture capital firm focuses on startups with underrepresented founders (which make up 76% of its portfolio), including women, Latinos and African Americans, a wildy underrepresented group among other VC firms.

Since she began getting involved with startups in 2014, Williams has been an angel investor in 45 companies, including Clubhouse, Impossible Foods, and Masterclass. And the first funding round at Serena Ventures covered 22 startups, including Chatdesk, recipe marketplace Foody, and virtual premarital counseling service Ours.

“I’ve always been fascinated with technology, and I’ve always loved how it really shapes our lives,” Williams told the New York Times. “When I met my husband [Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian], that was our first conversation. That’s how we met. I was talking about investments.”

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Forbes estimates Williams’ net worth at $260 million—and while she has earned $94 million from winnings on the court, the majority has come from business holdings and endorsements. While some deals could change as she steps away from the court, here’s a look at some of Williams’ other ventures:

Endorsements

As one of the greatest to ever play the game, Williams has built up an extensive collection of endorsement deals. Among the companies who have brought her on board to help sell their product are Gatorade, Nike, Delta Air Lines, Aston Martin, Pepsi, Puma, Beats by Dre, IBM, Intel, and Chase Bank.

Fashion

In 2018, Williams founded S by Serena, a clothing line with most items running between $50 and $150. That was her second venture into the designer field, having launched Aneres in 2004, and eventually shutting that one down.

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In 2019, in collaboration with KP Sanghvi, a global diamond manufacturer, she launched Serena Williams Jewelry, which initially was carried by Fred Meyers Jewelers online before expanding to other stores.

“One thing that’s really big right now is a delicate look; we wanted to incorporate that in a strong way,” she told Fast Company at the company’s launch.

“A lot of our stuff looks very soft and very delicate, but I wear this to train,” she said, tugging on her necklace, “and I’m probably training harder than the average person.”

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Media

While she’s certain to be in demand as a commentator, Williams might not have the time to do so. Last year, she scored a first-look deal with Amazon Studios for scripted and unscripted projects, including a documentary about her life. She’ll serve as executive producer on the series.

“I have a lot of stories I’m eager to tell, including a continuation of my own, and I look forward to sharing those with the world,” she said at the time.

Meanwhile, her first children’s book, The Adventures of Qai Qai, is due to be released on September 27. The story revolved around her daughter’s favorite doll, which has become a social media star itself, including an Instagram feed with 334,000 followers.

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And, beyond tennis, she also owns a small stake of the Miami Dolphins along with her sister Venus. (They were the first African American women to hold an ownership in an NFL team.)

Corporate boards

Williams also sits on the board of directors of SurveyMonkey (since 2017) and, until four months ago, was a board member with Poshmark. She’s a board advisor to blockchain-based fantasy soccer game Sorare, which coincides with her interest in cryptocurrencies. (Williams also has invested in Bitcoin rewards company Lolli, was part of a $19 million investment in NFT platform Bitski, and signed a partnership with Block Inc’s Cash App.) 

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About the author

Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience. Learn more at chrismorrisjournalist.com.

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