Serena Williams quotes "pay me in equity"

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

By Shayler Richmond

Serena Williams (left) and Randall Lane, Forbes Chief Content Officer (right) photo by Shayler Richmond

Serena Williams took the stage at the 2019 Forbes Under 30 summit to share her story and encourage strong work ethic, authenticity and more minority owned property and businesses.


Williams has built an empire. Expanding from an athlete to a business woman who’s also an athlete; she has opened an investment company, Serena Ventures, and launched an independent clothing collection, S by Serena. 


“When I’m the boss I’m going to give opportunities to the people that wouldn't otherwise have opportunities,” said Williams.


On average less than 2 percent of venture capital money goes to female founders. Serena Ventures has invested in over 34 startups and 60 percent of funding has gone to minority and women led companies. 


“I tend to do things that are rarely done,” said Serena Williams.


The saying goes, if you want something you've never had, then you have to do something you've never done. Her work has made her the first woman athlete to ever earn a spot on the Forbes: "America’s Self-Made Richest Women" list.



Serena Williams (left) and Randall Lane, Forbes Chief Content Officer (right) photo by Shayler Richmond

Serena Williams is arguably the best tennis player to ever pick up a racket with over 23 major single titles. From a family of four sisters to becoming a mother to her 2-year-old daughter Olympia, Williams is a family woman about her business. She makes it her business to be balanced, crediting moments with her daughter as her most proudest.


“I work my schedule around my daughter because I want her to know I’m here for her,” said Williams.


She’s on top of her game on and off the court. Williams does her due diligence with grace, humility, passion and courage. For her growth and fulfillment begins with believing in yourself and believing in your potential.


“Being a brand is about being who you are,” said Williams “When you’re investing in a company, you’re investing in that founder,” she continued.


Her brand is built on feeling good, doing good, looking good and being apologetic. Invest in yourself, surround yourself with people you can invest in and people who will invest in you.


Williams philanthropy is centered in education and action. She partners with Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence through financial empowerment.


“Financial abuse is not okay. It’s important to learn it doesn’t matter if you’re in the greatest relationship you should develop trust and always have some sort of financial independence,” said Williams.


She referenced Beyonce’s lyrics, “pay me in equity,” (Ape Shit) when emphasizing the importance of knowing your worth.


“In order to start changing the narrative we have to start owning things and running companies,” said Williams.


She is big on doing the work, not settling and facing adversity head on.


“I wasn’t the best player. I wasn’t the tallest. I work the hardest,” she said. “I’ve failed so many times at tennis, fashion and investing, but I keep going and that’s what makes you great." 


To everyone building for a better tomorrow:


“You don’t have to be the smartest. You don’t have to have the most funds. You don’t have to have the most open doors for you,” she said.  “It’s about the attitude that I’m going to be the hardest worker, I’m not going to let anything stop me, and I’m not going to give up!”