ROME (CelebrityAccess) Along with all of her other accomplishments, chalk up a big win for Serena Williams when it comes to finances.
Likely the most recognizable female athlete in the world, Williams has not only won 23 Grand Slam titles but is also apparently a wiz with money. She has an estimated fortune of $225 million, most of it coming from investments and 34 startups, according to Forbes, which added her to its list of the World’s Richest Self-Made Women. She is the first athlete to make the list.
Williams has also recently launched Serena Ventures, which is created to fund others and to help launch more companies.
Forbes notes that athletes are richer than ever because of the explosion in TV rights fees for live sporting events. The 50 highest-paid athletes in the world made $2.5 billion in 2018, up from $1 billion 15 years ago. Many athletes, like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, have launched media companies but Williams wants to invest in herself.
“I want to be a part of it,” she told Forbes. “I want to be in the infrastructure. I want to be the brand, instead of just being the face.”
Williams has put about 60 percent of her investments into companies led by women; just 2.3 percent of the total venture capital invested last year in the U.S. went to similar companies. Meanwhile, she has 30 million followers on social media and posts of her wearing Nike have generated more than $2 million in promotional value for the brand over the past year.
“Serena is a once-in-a-generation voice, reaching a global audience that extends well beyond tennis,” Hookit CEO Scott Tilton told the magazine.
She has also spent her time working with Bumble as an endorser of the dating app and has collaborated with Neighborhood Goods, which uses a pop-up approach to retailing clothes. She is also an investor in Billie, which makes razors priced to eliminate the “pink tax” that makes female-targeted products more expensive than the male counterparts.
Her endorsements, to the tune of about a quarter of a billion dollars, have been handled by Jill Smoller of WME for nearly two decades.
“I was talking, and Serena interrupted me and started asking all these questions about their distribution channels, KPIs and growth strategies,” Smoller said. “I looked around and saw their faces. . . . She’s at a level where she wants to understand the process and methods, which I think a lot of people don’t expect.” In May last year, Serena Ventures launched a self-funded, direct-to-consumer clothing line, S by Serena. She kept waiting for someone to fund a company for her to design clothing, she says, but “I was thinking of this the wrong way. I had to invest in myself.”