September 6, 2022
Melinda Head

Game Changer: Serena Williams

Serena 2.0 is already in the works

Serena Jameka Williams has had a tennis racquet in her hand for more than 35 years, though she will only turn 41 on September 26th.

Williams’ life has been documented in the film “King Richard”, for which Will Smith won an Oscar this year.

Serena is not the first accomplished African American tennis player. The first Grand Slam title was won by Althea Gibson in 1956. But, in those days, there was no internet, nor did talent agency IMG (International Management Group, now Endeavour) exist. Clearly, both have had a profound impact on Serena’s outstanding career.

After Althea Gibson won her first Grand Slam championship, it took 43 years for the next African American, Serena Williams, to do the same

“The loser is always part of the problem; the winner is always part of the answer. The loser always has an excuse; the winner always has a program. The loser says it may be possible, but it’s difficult; the winner says it may be difficult, but it’s possible.” (Althea Gibson)

Endeavour has done a great job promoting Serena Williams. It has a winning formula, incredible connections and makes athletes into superstars. Serena Williams is one of them, along with Novak Djokovic.

This 4X Olympic gold medallist has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles – more than any other male or female tennis player. Her $94.6 million in career prize winnings has been topped off with more than $350 million in endorsements since she turned pro in 1995 at age 14.

I would have loved to be the bank teller when Williams attempted to deposit her first $1 million cheque:

"I never touched (the money) — just put it in the bank. And I remember I went through the drive-thru to deposit (it) and then they were like, I think you need to come in for this.” (Serena Williams)

Ohhhhh, and did I mention her incredible sense of fashion? OMG!

Putting aside her formidable accomplishments, my fondest memory of Serena on the court is the 2018 US Open final during which she was forced to concede to Naomi Osaka. The umpire’s controversial call was devastating to Serena, but she held her head high and, with much grace, showed what an exceptional human being she truly is.

What goes on in an elite athlete’s mind can only be imagined. How does someone like Serena Williams make it to the top? Clearly, coaching is a part of her success. I love the Netflix documentary, “The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules for Life”. There are currently only 5 episodes, but each is riveting – especially the one about the coaching relationship between Williams and Patrick Mouratoglou. You must watch it.

Some athletes, like F1 driver Nico Rosberg, choose to exit when they reach the top (Rosberg retired 5 days after winning his first and only Formula One World Championship in 2016). Others cannot tear themselves away from the sport they love, the sport that defines them, the sport they have devoted their lives to. Serena chose to play as long as possible, despite many obstacles faced along the way.

Her new life is about to start on a full-time basis.

“Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me … I don’t want it to be over, but I’m ready for what’s next.” (Serena Williams)

In addition to fulfilling her 5 year-old daughter’s dream of becoming a big sister …

Serena still has many things to accomplish, and I have no doubt that she will continue to make a lasting mark on this planet as a role model for women, the Black community and innovators.

What particularly intrigues me right now is Serena Ventures, a venture capital company she founded that aims to make investment money available to the paltry 2% of women and people of color who currently receive VC support. Upon learning of this statistic, Williams said she was really shaken up. Now she’s going to shake everyone up in her own special way. Writing her own check to establish the Company in 2014, Williams just slam-dunked a $111 million first round of funding. The ball is in motion and she’s playing to win. Stay tuned and good luck, Serena!

Serena Ventures Blog Post: $111 Million for the Next Generation of Champions

“I am just me, and that’s all I can be.” (Serena Williams)

Now take what you’ve learned and play today’s Serena Williams Quiz of the Day:

1. Download Quizefy app.

2. 250 free gems will be instantly deposited in your name

3. Start playing immediately for free

4. Have fun and Strut Your Smart!

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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