October 4, 2022

Serena Williams’ much-vaunted return to Wimbledon this week didn’t go as planned. The 23-time Grand Slam winner lost in a first-round clash to world No. 115 Harmony Tan on Tuesday.

That superb early start in London, after almost a year away from the pitch, opened the floodgates to the usual question posed to the 40-year-old superstar: When will you retire?

When asked at a post-match press conference if she would play tennis professionally again, Williams cryptically replied, “That’s a question I can’t answer. I do not know . . . Who knows? Who knows where I will appear? »

Reality, in fact, has little to do with crushing a furry yellow ball. Williams, who Forbes says is worth $260 million and made $45.9 million last year in off-court earnings, is popping up everywhere: in Hollywood, fashion, publishing, venture capital and more Again. She laid the foundation for a post-sports career that could rival that of Michael Jordan.

Sports business writer Andrew Petcash even predicted Williams will become the first billionaire female athletethrough his portfolio of sponsorships and investments, including a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins – an NFL team valued at $3.42 billion.

“He’s not just an endorser, he’s a mogul,” Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert with Pinnacle, told The Post. “With big-name athletes, you see a lot more of them becoming business people and business owners and running businesses – not just launching products.”

In Williams’ case, she’s already moved from the baseline to the boardroom.

Serena Williams unexpectedly lost in the first round of Wimbledon to Harmony Tan of France.
Getty Images

In March, the four-time Olympic gold medalist unveiled Serena Ventures, her venture capital firm that invests in promising new startups. He has already raised more than $111 million for 60 companies, including money transfer service Sendwave and online learning platform MasterClass.

“I’ve always been fascinated by technology and always loved how it really shapes our lives,” Williams told The New York Times at the time. “When I met my husband [Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian], it was our first conversation. That’s how we met. I was talking about investments.

Williams, who married Ohanian — whose value Forbes estimates at $70 million — in 2017, also sits on the boards of Poshmark and SurveyMonkey.

Williams attended the Oscars in 2022 as the film's executive producer "King Richard," about his father Richard Williams.
Williams attended the 2022 Oscars as executive producer of the film “King Richard,” about her father Richard Williams.
John Locher/Invision/AP
Will Smith wows as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, in "King Richard."
Will Smith as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, in ‘King Richard’.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Plus, she’s at home in Hollywood.

While fans haven’t watched Williams in any Grand Slam final in the past 12 months as she recovers from injury, they got to see her hold court on the red carpet, including in a dress Pink Gucci at the Oscars – about 25 miles from where she grew up in Compton, California.

Serena and Venus Williams were producers of “King Richard”, nominated for best picture about their father Richard Williams. And they had the best seat in the house for Will Smith (who won Best Actor for playing his father) slapping presenter Chris Rock.

She recently told Insider that “King Richard” might just be the big screen debut and that she might be involved in more films about her and her sister’s storied careers, which are just kids in the movie.

“‘King Richard’ had a perfect ending with Venus on the tennis court,” she said. “Venus is going her way, and I’m going my way. They are two completely different stories.

“I think she would stay in the entertainment business and try to do more with movies,” Dorfman said. “In line with LeBron James, who has his SpringHill Company. Steph Curry does the same.

Williams and husband Alexis Ohanian attended the 2021 Met Gala.
Williams and husband Alexis Ohanian attended the 2021 Met Gala.
Mike Coppola

Williams is way ahead of James and Curry when it comes to fashion. She’s been making waves with her outfits for decades — eye-catching tutus and catsuits during games, or couture at the Met Gala. She turned her love of clothes into a source of income in the 2010s with three collaborations for HSN. When one debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2016, Williams sat front row next to tennis aficionado Anna Wintour.

Then, in 2019, she launched her own retail collection, S by Serena, which focuses on sustainably made, budget-conscious clothing. On the website, she models many of the looks herself. Williams also owns a cosmetics brand called Aneres and her own jewelry line.

Williams became a mom in 2017, when her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian was born, and her parenting has inspired her new artistic endeavors.

William and her husband Alexis Ohanian (right) had their daughter Olympia (centre) in 2017.
Williams and husband Alexis Ohanian (right) welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia (center) in 2017.

After the proud mum started posting Instagrams of her baby with her doll, Qai Qai, the toy exploded on social media – the doll’s dedicated account amassed 337,000 followers – and became the launch pad for the Williams’ first children’s book, “The Adventures of Qai Qai”, released on September 27. It is about a little girl who regains her confidence with the help of a magic doll.

With her interest in children, Dorfman said Williams might consider opening a tennis school for children who have less access to the sport. (The Venus and Serena Williams Tutorial/Tennis Academy in Los Angeles was not founded by the sisters.)

That said, Williams hasn’t officially retired and her losing match on Tuesday still marked a significant improvement from her loss through injury at Wimbledon in 2021. The next slam, the US Open , will begin on August 29 and Williams has not yet announced whether she plans to play there. She is still one slam away from equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 wins.

Whatever happens, Williams has a lot to look forward to when she puts down the racket.

“She’s such a big name, even if she doesn’t play, she’ll still be a big face in the sports world,” Dorfman said. “Even outside the world of sport, she has icon potential.”