Serena Williams is known for being one of the greatest tennis players, if not the greatest, of all time. Having begun playing professionally when she was just a teenager, the tennis champion has 23 Grand Slam singles titles, numerous sponsors and a veritable fortune in prize money, which may leave many wondering which brands and companies sponsor Serena Williams.
Serena Williams has had numerous sponsors over the course of her lengthy career. Famous brands such as Nike, Gatorade, PUMA, Wilson, Pepsi and Delta Airlines have all worked with Serena Williams, and those are just a handful of the top endorsements she’s scored over the years.
Read more below about Serena Williams’ rise to fame and fortune, her biggest endorsement deals and her stunning net wealth.
From Meager Means to Multi-Millionaire
Serena Williams has been playing tennis since she was 3-years old. Along with her sister, Venus, Williams’ dad, Richard, taught the girls to play on the local neighborhood courts in Compton, California.
Serena’s father managed a private security firm. In his spare time, Richard enjoyed watching tennis matches on television, and became fixated with turning his children into tennis pros, after seeing a player accept a $30,000 prize for winning a tournament.
Richard himself did not know how to play tennis, but that did not stop him from coming up with an extensive 78-page plan for his daughters’ future careers. In his autobiography, Richard recalled instilling both girls with an excellent work ethic, writing, “Training started early for my kids, but it wasn’t only on the tennis courts. I used to take Venus and Serena to work with me so they could learn the importance of planning, responsibility, and a strong work ethic, even at their early age.”
It’s no wonder then, that Serena has gone on to become one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. In 2019 alone Williams earned $29.2 million, but only $4.2 million was in prize money.
Williams’ sponsorships with major companies made up a good chunk of the rest of her earnings. Not only that, but Serena also runs her own eponymous fashion line, which also rakes in the cash for the tennis titan.
People might be wondering exactly how sponsorships work in the world of professional sports. Sponsorships run the gamut from being given free equipment (rackets, apparel, footwear), to filming television commercials and shooting print ads for specific brands or products, and Williams’ Instagram is filled with awesome snaps of her endorsements.
In 2003, Williams signed a $40 million endorsement deal with Nike. Williams promoted the sportswear giant by wearing Nike on the court during tournaments, as well as appearing in commercials, as well as collaborating on a collection.
Williams also partnered with Gatorade, and appeared in what is widely considered to be, some of the best ads Gatorade has ever created. Serena is not one just to sit back and rake in the money though; instead she likes to be a part of the process, saying, “Sometimes you have the opportunity to see the creative ideas at the beginning of the process, and have more of a say. Other times, these amazing creative agencies come up with great work. But we do talk about it, I can make suggestions and have ideas of how something might be more authentic to me, so it’s really more of a collaboration.”
You can watch a compilation of Serena Williams’ 2019 sponsorships in the YouTube video below.
Shrewd and Savvy
Serena Williams has always been savvy when it comes to her money, having been responsible for every financial decision, good or bad, since she was a teenager. When it comes to choosing sponsors and signing endorsement deals, Williams partners with brands that she believes in and actually uses in real life.
Regardless of her fame and fortune, Serena has asserted that the game will always come first, saying, “When I first turned pro, you had to go pick up your check. I never, never, picked it up, so at the end of the year, the tournament directors would literally hand me the check because I would never go get it. I just played for the love of the sport.”