By: Kaitlin Dandini
Sep. 22, 2022
Photo Credit: Associated Press
On Sep. 2, 2022, Serena Williams stepped onto the courts of the US Open for the last time. This summer marked the 142nd US Open, and amongst many notable players in this year's tournament roster, Serena's name stuck out the most.
In early August, Serena announced her plans to retire, and as she stepped onto the court, the weight of her words were felt throughout the stadium. Millions of viewers worldwide watched her match against Ajla Tomljanovic, filled with a bittersweet sense of excitement, admiration, and anxiety, knowing that at any moment, they could be experiencing the last time Serena took the court.
In typical Serena fashion, she fought hard in her match and went out swinging, ultimately finishing in a 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1 loss to Ajla Tomljanovic. However, when we reflect on Serena’s career, her legacy extends beyond her final match and far beyond any tennis court she has competed on.
Serena began her tennis career as a young girl growing up in Compton, California and finished it as one of the most well known athletes in the world. She is an inspiring icon who constantly pushed boundaries, serving as a role model for women and tennis fans everywhere. Her road to success wasn’t easy - the odds were stacked against her from the beginning, and even after winning her first Grand Slam title in 1999, her path never got easier. From being a Black female athlete in a predominately white sport to surviving a pulmonary embolism, Serena has faced numerous battles throughout her career. However, Serena aced every challenge thrown her way, continuing to strike down both gender and racial barriers.
Serena served as a pioneer in the advancement of athlete monetization. Her total tour winnings add up to over $94 million dollars, and her endorsements, which include Nike, Gatorade, and Intel, account for over $350 million dollars in earnings. Serena’s success in monetizing her athletic ability has made her a trailblazer for female athletes and women's sports.
While Serena's on court success speaks for itself, she partakes in other business ventures and serves as a model for inspiring business women around the world. In 2014, Serena founded Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in underrepresented, minority ownership startups.
Serena has also been a minority owner of the Miami Dolphins since 2009, a purchase that made her the first Black woman to own a percentage of an NFL franchise. She has since expanded her sports investments to include Angel City FC, a National Women's Soccer League team.
While Serena's presence on the courts will be missed by all, her impact will last forever. From fighting stereotypes to creating her own company, Serena has truly done it all. She will forever be known as not only one of the greatest athletes in the world, but an inspiring businesswoman and social activist who paved the way for women in sports.