June 21, 2024
Serena Williams

Serena Williams worked hard to dominate the WTA Tour like no other woman in the history of the sport in her time, but gaining success post-retirement wasn’t any simpler for her. Being a woman of color in the world of venture capital, Williams was part of a minority 1% group of people in the United States. But, she didn’t back down from the challenge of approaching potential partners to raise capital.

Serena Williams was part of the Bloomberg Originals podcast alongside former MLB player-turned-businessman Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez was fascinated to learn just how big of a challenge was it for the 23-time Grand Slam winner to convince potential partners when raising capital.

Meka revealed the “athlete” mindset when approaching these partners, thinking of it as a challenge that she was ready to take on.

“It’s a competition. I loved it. It gave me energy, it gives me life telling my story. And also this isn’t about me and it’s not about me raising capital. We are investing in women. We are investing in people of color. Like that 2% is women. People of color, women of color is less than a fraction, right? Like if I wanna start a business and my name isn’t Serena Williams, I’m gonna have to take something out on my house. I’m gonna have to go to the bank. Like it’s not, I’m not gonna be, I’m just gonna not be able to get VC money,” Serena said.

Williams then revealed that her venture capital fund – “Serena Ventures” – would operate in a way to promote businesses founded by people from all backgrounds, race, and genders. She proudly disclosed that 68% of her portfolio consisted of women or people of color, differentiating her from other venture capitals.

“But we are changing that. And we don’t only invest in women, we don’t only invest in people of color, but we’re putting that on a platform. Our portfolio right now as it stands as 68% women or person of color. And that is unheard of in the VC world. And so for me it’s all about diversity and bringing everyone together. We invest in literally everyone. We don’t care what you look like, but we hear your story. If you’re a woman, we hear your story if you’re a person of color,” Williams stated.

For the obvious reasons, the American seemed proud about the fact that she could use her platform to get people to share their unique and inspiring stories with potential partners.

“A lot of people that look like me don’t even get their heard story heard. And so when you do go to these LPs and you genuinely tell them story, if they pass, they pass. But at least you get them thinking, you get them hearing and maybe they’ll invest in another fund that is doing the same thing. Maybe that has been around a little bit longer with the track record a little bit longer. But they’ll come around to us at some point. And that’s kind of how I feel. But I love talking to LPs and just getting that story told on a platform that a lot of people don’t have. And so that is, it’s super amazing for us,” Serena said.

According to Simple’s article from early 2024, Serena Ventures has a portfolio of more than 60 companies from various industries. A few months later, via a TikTok video, the tennis legend claimed that the number had gone up to over 85 with 14 unicorns recently being invested in.

Serena Williams Gives Credit to Richard Williams for Forcing Her to Manage Her Own Money
Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams had a huge impact on her life. Apart from developing both his daughters into successful athletes, Richard would also give out several money-related tips. While talking to Alex Rodriguez, Serena revealed how her father taught her that the money she earned from tennis should be the “smallest earning”.

“I think it’s really interesting how I learned early on that your paycheck from tennis, should be your small, should be your smallest earning. Oh, that’s, my dad always told me growing up,” Serena Williams added.

Richard’s unique way of getting his daughters to invest their money wisely was also put on display when he let Serena keep the $12 million paycheck that she received from her first Puma deal.

Williams groomed his daughters into independent, successful women. He also needs to be given credit for making both his daughters extremely marketable by turning them into cultural icons that people from all over the world admire.

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