Tennis great Serena Williams continues to be a trailblazer. From winning 23 Gland Slams to becoming the only woman listed on Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
The 37-year-old appears on the 2019 list at no. 63 out of 100 athletes from around the world in professional sports such as football, soccer, basketball, and golf. Forbes estimated Williams’ pay at $29.2 million; salary winnings $4.2 million; and endorsements $25 million. She was also the only woman on the list in 2017.
In 2018, Williams wasn’t ranked on the list as she took a yearlong break from competing in tennis after becoming a mom. She and her husband, internet entrepreneur and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, are the proud parents of daughter Alexis Olympia.
Serena Williams, who has become an advocate for equal pay for women, including athletes and working mothers, wrote a column for Fortune magazine on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day in 2017.
“I’d like to acknowledge the many realities Black women face every day,” she wrote. “To recognize that women of color have to work—on average—eight months longer to earn the same as their male counterparts do in one year. To bring attention to the fact that Black women earn 17% less than their white female counterparts and that Black women are paid 63% of the dollar men are paid. Even Black women who have earned graduate degrees get paid less at every level.”
There has been a long fight for pay equality in sports.
“Sports have long mirrored society, and the gender pay gap has persisted in athletics, just as it has in the professional realm,” according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. “And, in sport, just as in society, women are fighting back, working towards the day when pay equality is achieved.”
In March, the women’s U.S. national soccer team filed a lawsuit against the Federation for equal pay. The women’s team says “institutionalized gender discrimination” has existed for years, even though they play more games and win more games than the men’s team, but still get paid less.
Also this month, Serena Williams ranked on Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women.
Williams shared the magazine cover on her Twitter feed and said she’s “honored to be the first athlete” on the list.
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) June 4, 2019
Williams launched the direct-to-consumer clothing line S by Serena in May 2018. She admitted that she was working herself to the point of burnout when trying to get the company off the ground.
“When I first started, I was close to burnout because I was working from 9 a.m. until 3 a.m.,” Williams said in an interview with The Business of Fashion. “I would be on calls and sending emails because I was acting as the CEO, the COO, and the president. I was on a fast track to burnout.”
She eventually realized how to prevent burnout from happening:
“You need to have a good team, be able to delegate, and have great communication with your team,” she said.
In April, Williams announced that for the past five years, she’s been helping other women and people of color become entrepreneurs by launching Serena Ventures.
Williams’ firm currently focuses on early-stage investments, so far 34 startups. Serena Ventures’ investments, which are a portfolio worth about $10 million, are mostly focused on health and wellness, fashion and e-commerce. Williams’ team only consists of Vice President Alison J. Rapaport, CFA, who oversees portfolio management and sources new investments.