By Iacovos Iacovides, The Sports Financial Literacy Academy
Serena and Venus Williams are two of the best athletes to ever grace the tennis court. They are nonetheless athletes, entrepreneurs, investors, and philanthropists. They are everything that young athletes – both male and female – should look up to and a near-perfect example of the overall strategy that athletes should try to emulate. What makes their case exceptional, is that they rose to prominence at a time where it was commonplace to consider female sports as subpar to male competition; they can be credited to an extent for changing that perception as well. The fact that they are sisters is just the cherry on the top.
Although neither of the sisters have officially retired, they are both in their forties and would be fair to say, past their prime. In their illustrious careers Serena and Venus won 30 grand slams between them. Serena accounts for 23 of those. For the record, Nadal won 21 while Djokovic and Federer both won 20. It is safe to assume that both sisters would make the all-time-great list of women tennis as the numbers speak for themselves.
Venus reached the US Open Final in her first attempt at the age of 17 in 1997. She is one of only two players – male or female – to win 5 Olympic medals and was the first African-American to top the rankings in women tennis. Serena on the other hand, jointly holds the record for longest run as Number 1 and in total, she has won 39 Grand Slam titles (23 in singles, 14 in doubles and 2 in mixed doubles) second only to Margaret Court. Serena’s 23rd grand slam – which she won while pregnant – made her the most accomplished female tennis player of the Open Era. Venus and Serena have also won 14 grand slams as a team. Their athletic achievements are well-documented, but their off-the-field endeavors and accomplishments tend to go unnoticed sometimes.
Serena’s net worth lies somewhere between $210-250mn and Venus’ is close to $100mn; clearly amounts that have not been accumulated solely through prize money and sponsorships. The sisters have both excelled in their business activities which they began in their early 20s as the money smart athletes that they are.
Venus is the cofounder of V-Starr interior (interior design company), the owner of EleVen (clothing line), a franchisee of Jamba Juice and a New York Times Best Seller co-author. Aside from the degree that both she and her sister acquired in fashion design, Venus has also earned a bachelor of science in business administration. Serena on the other hand, is the owner of S by Serena (fashion line), Serena Williams Jewellery and the co-founder of Serena Ventures which has invested in over 50 companies – mostly start-ups. Serena and Venus are also shareholders of the Miami Dolphins.
Of course, just like other accomplished athletes and superstars, the sisters do not neglect their philanthropic duties. They have supported dozens of organizations, foundations, initiatives and charities at the local, national and international level such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Small Steps Project, the HollyRod Foundation, Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund, World Education, the Eva Longoria Foundation and the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program. Serena is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Venus a UNESCO Promoter of Gender Equality.
Serena and Venus are the two athletes that every young upstart should aspire to be like.
Over a decade of athletic achievements, championships and medals: Check
Multiple revenue channels: Check
Diversified investment portfolios: Check
Successful entrepreneurs. Check
Socially responsible and charitable. Check
No doubt, The Williams will go down in history as two of the most successful athletes of all time.
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