In Sport Sponsorship, Sports Marketing

When we talk about the greatest and most famous female athletes in the world, anyone will mention her name; Serena Williams has in fact become the symbol of women’s sport, by far the most famous, successful and paid athlete in history.

She appears in more than one Forbes’ list, she is one of the only two women to be among the top 50 highest paid athletes in the world; just this year in fact, for the first time since 2016 when she was accompanied by Sharapova, Serena comes behind the Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka, the only two women in the top 50 on the list.

But let’s see her placings straight away:

# 33 The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2020

# 83 America’s Self-Made Women 2020

# 98 Celebrity 100 2020

# 81 Power Women 2019

Her assets are said to be worth over $ 225 million, including prizes money won in tournaments, sponsors that have always followed her since the beginning and investments in multiple businesses.

It’s quite evident that Serena Williams influence on tennis has been huge, but that her influence moved event outside the tennis court.

Not just a great tennis player but a real entrepreneur

When people talk about Serena Williams they clearly think about her sporting successes and career, but in reality there is so much more. Let’s see how Serena has changed the world, not just tennis.

The tennis champion is well known not only for her amazing talent and ability on the court but also for her great business wisdom. According to Forbes, Serena appears to have invested in more than 50 startups over the past six years through Serena Ventures (founded in 2014) in a portfolio worth at least $ 10 million. And they are not just some random investments whose goal is the only and mere business; Serena Ventures seem to be particularly focused on companies founded by women, and minorities in particular, and help them to be heard, grow and succeed.

Passionate about style and fashion, in 2018 she launched her own self-financed and direct-to-consumer clothing and accessories collection sold via her website, S by Serena, and a very recent line of jewellery called Serena Williams Jewelry. If this isn’t enough, she also owns stakes in the Miami Dolphins and UFC.

Last news is that the 23-times Grand Slam-winner and seven-times F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, close friend of Serena, are willing to invest millions of pounds to one of the bids vying to become the new owners of Chelsea Football Club.

The athlete who has won the highest number of slams in the world, surpassing even men.

How has Serena Williams changed tennis? She started playing tennis with her sister Venus on public courts in Los Angeles, along with her father Richard, who followed them and helped them turning pro in 1994/1995. From that moment onwards, a career of incredible victories and performances began for both of them, but it is Serena with her unique and rare talent, power and athleticism that will mark the history of tennis and sport in general forever, with records still today unmatched.

Williams has won 23 Grand Slams in her career, beating the 20 won by Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. The list of her victories and records is incredible, it’s impressive just mentioning them:

– Becomes number 1 in the world in 2002 and remains in this position for 319 weeks of which 186 in a row

– 73 WTA titles in singles

– 23 Grand Slams including 7 Australian Open (the last in 2017 when she was even pregnant), 6 US Open, 7 Wimbledon, 3 Roland Garros

– Olympic Gold in London 2012 in single and 3 Olympic Golds with her sister Venus in double

– 16 Grand Slams in doubles, 14 of which with her sister

No wonder she is called “The Queen” and considered the best tennis player of all time. She is an athlete who has worked even harder to fight prejudice and make her way through a sport dominated by predominantly by white tennis players and an elite audience that often haven’t understand and appreciate her as she deserved.

Many times people ask how has Serena Williams changed society. One example above all: she had the strength to boycott the Indian Wells Open for 14 years after suffering boos and racist attacks from the public in the 2001 final; an episode that hit her deeply but made her even stronger and more determined in her rise to success and in fighting against racial abuse and discrimination.

A list of sponsors, partners and exclusive collaborations

With the accumulated successes and fame and her unique style, it is not difficult to understand why companies have competed to works and have the exclusivity of the American athlete.

From Nike (loyal sponsor that follows her from the debut) to Audemars Piguet, passing through Beats Electronics, Bumble, Gatorade, JPMorgan Chase, Lincoln cars, Away suitcases, Upper Deck, Wilson Sporting Goods.

In short, the tennis player’s portfolio of sponsors is rich, solid and really strong: over $ 32M a year. Not only sponsors but also companies that use her as a real celebrity for their advertising campaigns as it happened recently with the famous luxury shoe brand Stuart Weitzman that sees Serena as the protagonist of the new winter campaign with the claim “Be bold . Be daring. Be in your element. ” Moreover, she has recently passed the baton of the famous “Wheaties cereal box cover” to the great Lebron James.

Super active and highly followed on social media, she often enjoys promoting her clothing and accessories lines as well as her make-up and cosmetics partners through videos and tutorials that get millions of views and interactions; her followers love her.

In short, a woman that at the of 39  has already created an all-round empire, an undoubtedly talented athlete but also an intelligent and creative entrepreneur. Serena Williams embodies a quantity of values such that any company would dream to be at her side: talent, determination, hard work, positive mindset, the ability to get up, a fighter to the last breath but also a woman who makes her voice heard, a sweet and caring mother, an intelligent and capable entrepreneur.

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Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Associate Director, Executive Marketing and Commercial at RTR Sports Marketing, a London-based sports marketing company specializing in motorsport for over 25 years.
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