From tennis star to venture capitalist.
Serena Williams has recently announced a monumental lineup of investments, partnerships, and plans for her venture capital fund Serena Ventures LLC.
While today the Williams sisters have become household names, the recently released King Richard reminds us of the long journey Serena Williams has had as she now joins the small but powerful group of Black female venture capitalists. According to the New York Times, Willaim's fund which was founded in 2014 and made public in 2019, is on a mission to “ invest in founders with diverse points of view". Despite the rise in venture capital over the last year, the percentage going to Black businesses remains incredibly low, at only 0.6 percent. Serena Ventures is dedicated to changing this narrative by providing opportunities for minority business owners. Within the fund's current portfolio, 3/4 of the companies originate from minority backgrounds, and as it stands many of the Serena Ventures executive team are women with Allison Rappaport serving as vice president. In a CSNBC television interview, Williams had this to say on the importance of her role as founder. "The reason I started Serena Ventures is that I feel like the venture capital ecosystem really needs an inclusive player, and a player with a platform to make the necessary impact and change at scale." The fund has already amassed a 110 million dollar endowment as a result of partnerships with companies like Lion Tree and CapitalG and has made investments in over 60 brands including Daily Harvest, Masterclass, and Tonal.
The fund is targeting lifestyle brands and following future trends like cryptocurrency and NFT. Serena and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian were some of the first people to jump on the cryptocurrency wave, and the fund now partners with cryptocurrency trackers Billie and Coin tracker. In addition to being a representative for women of color, the relationships Williams has made throughout her career as both an athlete and a businesswoman give her a creative edge when working with companies. More than anything the purpose of the fund is to make venture capital more accessible.
Crunchbase data shows that Back female startup founders have received just 0.34 percent of the total venture capital spent in the U.S. so far this year. Williams tweeted this sentiment about inclusion in the financial space, “My dad helped me learn about finances when I was younger, but not everyone has a way to get started… I’ve been working to build a curriculum to help more people learn about equity. It's easier than you think!”
With this new influx of funding and knowledge, Serena Williams is changing the game on equity, opportunity, and wealth. More importantly, she’s bringing the Black community and woman into the fold. Now that’s Game, Set, Match personified.