How Serena Williams Wants to Conquer Wall Street | The Deal

How Serena Williams Wants to Conquer Wall Street | The Deal

Intro (00:00:00)

  • Serena Williams is investing in women and people of color, who are underrepresented in venture capital funding.
  • She understands that her success in tennis has had a profound impact on the sport, particularly in terms of pay and representation.
  • Serena Williams describes herself as a mom, a businesswoman, and a free spirit.
  • She has been investing since 2013 and is passionate, disciplined, and has big plans for her investments.
  • Serena Williams is surprised at how much she opened up about her investing during the interview.
  • She recognizes the gravity and impact of being a woman and a person of color in the business world.

Reflecting on financial success in tennis (00:02:31)

  • Serena Williams reflects on her financial success in tennis.
  • She earned over half a billion dollars in prize money during her career.
  • Money was never her motivation to play tennis.
  • She was more focused on winning championships and having fun.
  • Winning a Grand Slam was her ultimate goal.
  • Everything else, including financial success, was a bonus.
  • She worked hard for everything she achieved.
  • Serena Williams is now focused on expanding her financial success.
  • She is interested in multiplying her wealth.
  • She is considering what her financial success means for her future.

What motivates Serena today (00:04:20)

  • Serena Williams is motivated by success, which she defines as having great investments, being a mom, or achieving personal goals.
  • She believes that success is different for everyone and that authentic partnerships are important.

Richard Williams (00:06:26)

  • Serena's father, Richard Williams, provided her with valuable business advice from an early age.
  • He encouraged her to manage her own money and make her own financial decisions, empowering her to be financially independent.
  • Richard Williams' marketing strategies helped Serena and Venus gain attention and recognition in the tennis world.

Puma deal (00:08:04)

  • Serena Williams' father negotiated her first major endorsement deal with Puma when she was 16 years old.
  • The deal was significant for Serena as it provided financial security and validation of her talent.
  • Serena learned the importance of being involved in negotiations and understanding the business side of her career from this experience.
  • She also missed out on an opportunity to acquire equity in Puma, which she later regretted.
  • The partnership with Puma helped amplify Serena's brand and contributed to her success as a professional tennis player.
  • Serena Williams is actively involved behind the scenes in negotiations related to her endorsements and business ventures.
  • She trusts her team to deliver her vision and advice during negotiations.
  • Serena's involvement ensures that her interests and goals are prioritized in business dealings.

Serena's passion for fashion (00:11:33)

  • Serena Williams' interest in fashion began at a young age when her mother sewed their tennis outfits.
  • She learned how to sew and make clothes from old socks and clothes.
  • Serena attended fashion school and collaborated with Puma to design her own tennis outfits.
  • She wanted to stand out and embrace her individuality by wearing unique outfits that reflected her personality and background.
  • Nike later amplified her fashion influence, leading to iconic moments like wearing a jean skirt in New York.
  • Serena Williams is passionate about investing and views it as a way to build generational wealth and secure her family's future.
  • She believes in the importance of financial education and empowering women to take control of their finances.
  • Serena emphasizes the significance of investing in oneself, both in terms of personal growth and financial well-being.
  • She encourages individuals to start investing early, even with small amounts, and to seek knowledge and guidance from experts.
  • Serena highlights the value of diversification and spreading investments across different asset classes to mitigate risk.

The Puma catsuit (00:13:50)

  • Serena Williams discusses her iconic catsuit worn at the 2002 US Open.
  • Initially hesitant about wearing it, she changed her mind and felt empowered by the outfit.
  • The catsuit gained immense popularity and became a cultural phenomenon, transcending sports and inspiring people from all walks of life to watch tennis.
  • Serena acknowledges the significance of the moment in retrospect, recognizing its impact on body positivity and the growth of tennis.
  • Serena Williams expresses her interest in conquering Wall Street and making an impact in the financial world.
  • She highlights her passion for investing and learning about the stock market.
  • Serena emphasizes the importance of financial literacy and education, particularly for women and minorities.
  • She aims to use her platform and influence to empower others and create opportunities in the financial industry.

The business of Serena evolves (00:17:19)

  • Serena Williams discusses her journey beyond tennis and her impact off the court, emphasizing the importance of having a plan B and understanding pop culture to create a lasting impact.
  • Williams recalls a conversation with Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, where she expressed her desire for her own signature shoe. Knight agreed to renegotiate her contract if she reached a primary market, which she achieved when she was traded to the New York Liberty.
  • After winning the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open in the same year, Williams realized the global impact her brand could have and expanded her reach beyond tennis.
  • Williams highlights the importance of having a strong female partner in business and credits her agent, Jill Smoller, for her success.
  • She is interested in conquering Wall Street and is strategically building relationships in the financial industry.

Nike (00:25:14)

  • Serena Williams always wanted to be with Nike, even before signing with Puma.
  • She believed that Nike had the best marketing and could amplify her reach globally.
  • Tennis is not just in the United States, it's everywhere on the globe, and Nike could reach that far.

Serena's impact on tennis (00:26:40)

  • Serena Williams' success in tennis had a significant impact on the sport.
  • Her presence at tournaments led to increased attendance and viewership.
  • The US Open, Serena's favorite tournament, had a particularly electric atmosphere when she played.
  • Serena felt the pressure to perform well due to the attention and expectations surrounding her.
  • Despite the pressure, Serena maintained a humble attitude and recognized that the tournament would continue with or without her.
  • Serena acknowledged that losing was bigger news than winning and that the pressure was not always enjoyable, but she considered it a privilege.
  • Serena Williams is interested in expanding her business ventures beyond tennis.
  • She is particularly interested in the world of venture capital and investing in startups.
  • Serena believes that her experience as a professional athlete has given her valuable skills and insights that can be applied to the business world.
  • She is excited about the opportunity to learn and grow in the field of venture capital and to make a positive impact on the world.

Serena's business mindset (00:30:01)

  • Serena Williams displayed a thorough understanding of business during a call, surprising the speaker.
  • Her attention to detail and love for learning contribute to her business acumen.
  • Serena's involvement in her investment firm, Serena Ventures, includes actively helping founders understand and improve their businesses.
  • Serena's tennis career made her aware of lucrative sponsorship opportunities.
  • She questioned why she missed out on investing in successful companies like Facebook and Google.
  • This realization prompted her to seek knowledge about investing and business.
  • Serena visited Silicon Valley, then a male-dominated environment, to learn about business and investing.
  • She absorbed knowledge from founders and soaked up information about the business world.
  • This learning experience marked the beginning of Serena's journey into the business realm.

Diversity in Venture Capital (00:32:54)

  • Serena Williams, inspired by the underrepresentation of women and minorities in venture capital funding, founded Serena Ventures to address this issue.
  • Serena Ventures focuses on investing in women and people of color, recognizing the systemic barriers they face in obtaining venture capital funding.
  • Despite challenges as a former athlete and a woman of color, Serena embraced the competition and found energy in telling her story and advocating for underrepresented founders.
  • Serena Williams' investment portfolio currently consists of 68% women or people of color, which is highly unusual in the VC industry.
  • Williams believes in the power of storytelling and uses her platform to share the stories of underrepresented founders, hoping to raise awareness and attract investors to these businesses.

Alexis Ohanian (00:38:25)

  • Serena Williams' father and sister were partners in business.
  • Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian met while discussing investments.
  • Serena Williams believes her influence on Alexis Ohanian is his drive for success and recognition as a top investor.
  • She advises him on strategies and insights for successful investing, emphasizing the importance of playing the game well.
  • Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian met while discussing investments.

How Alexis and Serena met (00:39:43)

  • Serena Williams met Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, at a hotel in Italy during a tech conference.
  • Despite trying to avoid social interactions during tournaments, Serena engaged in a conversation with Ohanian after learning about his role in starting Reddit.
  • Serena and Alexis are professional partners who keep their personal and professional lives separate but collaborate effectively when working together.
  • Serena seeks advice from Alexis, her husband and a renowned investor, on investment-related matters, valuing his expertise in building teams and identifying promising sectors for early-stage investments.
  • Alexis Ohanian's foresight enables him to invest in companies before their respective sectors gain popularity.

Women's Soccer (00:43:30)

  • Serena Williams was not happy that her daughter, Olympia, was playing soccer instead of tennis.
  • She believes that the pay for women's soccer players is "disgusting" and that they deserve to be paid more.
  • Serena supports Alexis Ohanian's investment in Angel City, a women's soccer team, but she wanted him to invest in tennis instead.
  • Olympia has since changed her mind and now likes tennis more than soccer.
  • Serena Williams measures winning today by getting a deal.
  • Her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, is currently working on a deal and is close to winning it.
  • She often gets calls from founders who say that Serena Ventures is in, but she has to clarify that they are not quite in yet.

Serena's advice (00:46:00)

  • Serena advises aspiring individuals to work hard and not take shortcuts.
  • She emphasizes that success requires dedication and effort, as exemplified by her own experiences in Rome and San Francisco.
  • Hard work is the key to achieving goals, whether in sports or investing.
  • Serena highlights the importance of having fun and appreciating life's simple moments.
  • She encourages taking time to reflect on being alive and present.
  • Expressing gratitude can enhance one's daily experience.

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