Tennis champion Serena Williams, aka the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) and icon to millions of fans, might be saying goodbye to professional tennis after 27 years and 23 grand slam titles, but she’s far from saying goodbye to the millions of dollars still pouring in.
Serena Williams has many more strings to her tennis racket., and she’s on the top 100 Forbes list of the world’s richest self-made women. Here’s how Serena makes her money, and the valuable lessons for business and public relations professionals.
- Prize money
Williams has won nearly 95 million dollars in total prize money across her career the most of any female tennis player, but this actually makes up only a small percentage of her wealth.
- Nike Sponsorships and more
She nets a lot more through sports sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike which recently made her a pair of diamond-encrusted sneakers for her final U.S open.
PR agencies should take note.
- Corporate partners and venture capital
In total, Williams has more than a dozen corporate partners. Outside of tennis, the “G.O.AT” is also big on unicorns. Unicorns are generally startups valued at more than $1bn dollars and Williams’s venture capital firm has a track record for investing in them.
Online education platform – Master class and food & exercise tracker nume are just two examples. The firm, Serena ventures had raised an inaugural fund of $111m.
- Football club
Williams also owns a small stake in the U.S football team the Miami dolphins with her sister Venus.
Who knows which other football or basketball team she may buy a stake in.
- Fashion and style
Williams hasn’t stopped there. Along with investing and sports, fashion and entertainment have been big areas of focus for her as a business Woman.
In 2019 she launched “S by Serena” a sustainable clothing line and earlier that year joined the board of directors of online fashion marketplace Poshmark.
- Amazon and TV projects
Last year she signed an expansive deal with Amazon studios to create scripted and unscripted television projects exclusively for streaming service Amazon prime
She’s tried her hand in writing too with her first children’s book due to publish this year. it couldn’t be determined how much the book or the deal with Amazon are worth, but it will certainly add a few millions to her estimated net worth of over $260million.
It might be game set and match on Serena Williams’s professional tennis career, but she’s still a money making machine. Thanks to her personal brand and business intelligence.
5 Lessons PR professionals can learn from Serena Williams
Lesson #1: Nothing great comes easy
When Serena decided to start an investment company, she found out that the investment world is a small niche. Breaking into the industry was not as easy as she initially thought.
Even after breaking into the industry, Serena had to go through a steep learning curve. Once the tennis player was able to overcome the initial challenges, it became easier and things started coming to her. Lesson for PR people: the beginning is always hard, but victory lies ahead.
Lesson #2: Dare to be different
Consider this – if you do the exact same thing as every other company in the marketplace, why should customers choose you over the others? You have to do something different to stand out.
When Serena started playing tennis, the normal routine for everyone else was to get involved in tournaments and junior competitions. Serena did things differently. She just focused on her training. Everyone told her it couldn’t be done because no one had done it. The results, however, speak for themselves.
PR and marketing professionals should internalize this mindset.
Lesson #3: Live below your means and invest in yourself
Serena makes millions each year, but she doesn’t splurge. She describes herself as “the most boring spender.” There is nothing wrong in investing in oneself. That is money well spent because it sets you up to earn more in the future. But, when it comes to buying things to make herself feel good, Serena is “bad” at it.
Living below your means and investing the surplus is the only equation that adds wealth. If, on the other hand, you are spending more than you earn, even if it’s just a little over the budget, the practise will make you poorer every year, and over the long run you will go bankrupt no matter how rich you are.
This is a valuable lesson for public relations agencies and consultants.
Lesson #4: Recognize your strengths
Everyone has their own strengths. If you are able to recognise yours and leverage them, you can make a lot of money. PR professionals can learn this nugget.
Serena’s strength is her fame. Although she was making more than enough by playing tennis and endorsing products for big brands, she knew the real money is in turning her name into a brand and promoting her own products instead of helping other companies for a small fee.
Lesson #5: Don’t do it only for money
This is probably Serena’s biggest lesson for public relations agencies and business professionals. There is more to life than making money. After reaching a threshold that lets you live a comfortable life, the thought of making more money should not be the driving force of you actions.
You have to find something greater than yourself. A Higher purpose. For Serena, it is investing in companies that will bring about real change in the world.