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The BoF Podcast | Serena Williams: ‘Pressure Is a Privilege’

In a 2019 conversation with BoF’s Imran Amed, the tennis champion, who announced her retirement this week, reveals how the mental toughness she has built on the court prepared her for life as an entrepreneur.
Serena Williams.

Background:

This week, tennis superstar Serena Williams announced her imminent retirement as part of a cover story with American Vogue. Known in fashion circles for her on-court style, which included catsuits and denim skirts and a collaboration with late designer Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, Williams will have more time to focus on as her burgeoning business empire, including her fashion label S by Serena and a venture fund, Serena Ventures.

This week on The BoF Podcast, we revisit Williams’ 2019 conversation with BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed about how the mental toughness she has built on the court has prepared her for life as an entrepreneur.

“It’s really important for things not to come super easy for you, and to kind of accept that challenge, embrace it and then just roll with it,” said Williams.

Key Insights:

  • Rather than work with a partner, licence her name or sign another lucrative endorsement, Williams felt it was important to invest time, money and effort in herself and chase her own vision with S by Serena, a direct-to-consumer brand she has funded independently.
  • Serena Ventures just raised $111 million and has invested in over 60 companies including personal care brand Lola, supply chain management firm Calico and razor-maker Billie.
  • The fund was originally founded in 2014 when Williams noticed people of colour and women were not getting the investments they needed.
  • Balancing all her pursuits and personal life can be tough. But, when she feels pinched, William is reminded of one of her favourite quotes from Billie Jean King: “pressure is a privilege.”

Additional Resources:

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