Tennis legend Serena Williams has announced her retirement. In a test for Vogue, she says she plans to step away from the sport after competing at the US Open in New York this summer.
She plans to focus on her family and other business ventures, though she’d rather you didn’t use the “r” word. It’s more of an evolution, she says.
“I never liked the word retirement,” she writes. “That doesn’t sound like a modern word to me. I thought of it as a transition, but I want to be sensitive to how I use this word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Perhaps the best word to describe what I do is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me. A few years ago, I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after, I started a family. I want to grow this family.
In 2017, Williams welcomed a daughter, Olympia, with husband Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit. During her pregnancy, she participated in the Australian Open, achieving a Grand Slam victory. “I absolutely do not want to be pregnant again as an athlete,” she wrote. “I need to be two-footed in tennis or two-footed.”
Williams is often called not only the greatest tennis player of all time, but the greatest athlete of all time, period. She won her first US Open in 1999, when she was just 17 years old. She won the most Grand Slam singles titles during the Open Era, and she won four Olympic gold medals, including three in doubles with her sister Venus Williams, a joint record. She also won 14 women’s doubles titles with her sister, another record. The pair are also undefeated in the Grand Slam doubles final.
Serena and Venus Williams’ early life was dramatized in last year’s film ‘King Richard,’ which earned six Oscar nominations. Will Smith won an Oscar for playing their demanding father Richard Williams. The two sisters served as executive producers on the film.
“I suck at goodbyes, the worst in the world,” Williams wrote. “But know that I am more grateful to you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many victories and so many trophies. I will miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I will miss you.
Williams is the highest paid athlete of all time, and Forbes called her “one of America’s richest self-made women”.
So on her next step, let’s take a look back to see how she built her fortune.
His tennis career
According to Forbes, Williams won a total of $94.6 million in prize money from the Women’s Tennis Association. That’s twice as much as any other female athlete has ever won. The runner-up in this title is Venus, which took home $42 million in prize money.
Williams has slowed down a bit in recent years, following the birth of her daughter and the physical toil common to professional athletes. Since 2015, she usually does no more than eight tournaments a year. In 2021, she slipped on the grass of center court during Wimbleton’s opening set and tore her hamstrings. She then skipped the US Open as well as this year’s Australian Open.
She is currently playing at the Canadian Open, where she won his first game in 14 months. She is also expected to play the Western & Southern Open next week.
Scroll to continue
As is usually the case with superstar athletes, the majority of Williams’ wealth comes from endorsements. For a time, Williams was not a brand favorite, as the Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova surpassed her until 2016, when Williams ultimately emerged victorious. (Critics and various Twitter types have long attributed this snub to racism, essentially saying advertisers should be ashamed to fully acknowledge his talents.)
If you’re an athlete and haven’t been endorsed by Nike (NKE) – Get the report from Nike Inc.Gatorade (DYNAMISM) – Get the report from PepsiCo Inc. and wheaties (GIS) – Get the report from General Mills Inc.well, you’re not really an athlete, are you?
Williams has them all in the bag, as well as deals, at one point or another, with Intel (INTC) – Get the Intel Corporation reportSwiss luxury watch company Audemars Piguet, IBM (IBM) – Get the International Business Machines Corporation ReportLincoln Engines (LECO) – Get the report from Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. (specifically for the Lincoln Navigator model), Delta (DAL) – Get the report from Delta Air Lines Inc.JPMorgan Chase (JPM) – Get the report from JP Morgan Chase & Co., (FCC) – Get the Chase Corporation reportBeats by Dre (APPL) trading card company Upper Deck, Gucci, Subway, Pepsi (alongside Usain Bolt, she was the face of the Pepsi Challenge campaign), food technology company JUST Egg (she is also an investor in the company) , Aston Martin, the lingerie brand Berlei, Tempur-Pedic, AccorHotels, etc.
Forbes estimates that she made $45 million in endorsements this year alone.
Williams is a savvy investor and his portfolio includes a percentage of the Miami Dolphins.
In 2014, she launched the aforementioned venture capital firm Serena Ventures. It has a market capitalization of $12 billion and has invested in over 60 start-ups.
Some of the companies Serena Ventures has invested in include NFT marketplace Bitski, online education platform Flockjay, plant-based meat company Impossible Foods, plant-based deodorant brand Myro, and social network and Bumble dating app. She has also invested in Pachama, a company that aims to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change and Karat, a company that helps more black software engineers get hired.
Additionally, she sits on the board of directors of SurveyMonkey’s parent, Momentive.
His publishing career
Williams’ first book, “The Adventures of Qai Qai,” will be published in September. He is inspired by his daughter’s beloved doll, that Williams created and who has more than 353,000 followers on Instagram.
The book will be published by Feiwel & Friends, a division of Macmillan Publishers. It is unclear how much in advance she was paid, however between $3 and $10 million is a pretty standard rate for famous authors.
His film career
The two Williams sisters served as executive producers on “King Richard.” Their exact cut of the film has not been reported, but the film has grossed nearly $40 million worldwide.