Serena Williams Reflects: Perseverance Through Triumphs and Challenges.

Serena Williams Reflects: Perseverance Through Triumphs and Challenges.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, mom of two and venture capitalist hung up her tennis racket, but tells PEOPLE for its 50th anniversary issue that the list of what she wants to accomplish “never ends”

Twenty-three Grand Slam titles. Four Olympic gold medals. Three hundred nineteen weeks as the world No. 1 singles player. Serena Williams can’t be reduced to a number, but it’s hard not to gawk at the stats.

From the moment she won her first title, at the 1999 US Open, at just 17 years old, she dominated the tennis world and changed the game for Black athletes. Now, 42 and retired, Williams runs a venture capital firm that prioritizes female and BIPOC-led companies and recently launched her WYN Beauty brand — all while juggling homelife with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughters Olympia, 6, and Adira, 8 months.

Your 1999 U.S. Open win turned you into a household name — what was it like seeing yourself all over the world after that?That win really propelled me to the next level and it propelled me to being just…everywhere. It had been so long since an African American had won a Grand Slam — it had been a very, very long time. And I was the first to do it since Althea Gibson in the 50s. It pushed so many more amazing young Black women into the sport. And it was fun.

What are you most proud of from your life and career so far? I’m most proud of just being able to persevere. I think perseverance is something that is not often talked about. But I think staying in it, through the negatives and positives and still having a career that expands well over two decades, is pretty awesome. And I’m really fortunate that I’ve been able to do that.

What’s on your list of what you still want to accomplish?I think that list never ends. Now, I really want to grow into this entrepreneur that I’ve actually been doing for the past 25 years. I’ve always been in this space, but actually focusing on my businesses and focusing on growing not only my brand, but different brands and working with different founders as a venture capitalist. But I think the very next thing on my list is just to be a good mom.

In several of these features you mention wanting to get into acting — is that still on the list?I used to want to be an actress really bad. I’m just so busy now, and it’s fine. I like my life. I’m not hanging up my acting career just yet, even though it’s already been hung up, but I’m just loving what I’m doing right now.

What is it like, having all these businesses and ventures that you’re working on, now with two girls at home?It’s been really hectic to have two and then have all the brands. I’m starting to sweat a little bit more because now Adira recognizes me and she wants to come to me, and that honestly is so sweet and so cute. But then my other daughter Olympia, she’s six and she still wants a ton of attention. …But, I love it. I’ve always loved a challenge, I’ve never steered away from hard work. It’s also fun to show your daughter as you’re creating products and say, ‘What do you think about this? Do you like this name?’ And then literally have her say, ‘I like that name better than this.’ It’s something that’s really cool, to really conceptualize together.

Are there stories or memories from your career that you’ve started telling your daughters about?Yeah, Olympia’s now at an age where she’s like, ‘Listen, I am wondering, why are you so famous?’ She was like, ‘You’re a great tennis player.’ And so I told her the other day that she actually was in my belly when I won a big tournament [the 2017 Australian Open] and she was surprised. She’s at an age now where I can kind of open up to her a little bit more.


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