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Tennis champion Serena Williams is hanging up her racket after the 2022 U.S. Open.
In an essay published by Vogue magazine on Aug. 9, Williams said she would be shifting her focus from the sport to her family and her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures. Williams founded Serena Ventures in 2014 after learning during a J.P. Morgan Chase conference that less than 2% of all venture capital money went to women.
"I kind of understood then and there that someone who looks like me needs to start writing the big checks. Sometimes like attracts like," she wrote. "Men are writing those big checks to one another, and in order for us to change that, more people who look like me need to be in that position, giving money back to themselves."
According to Serena Ventures' website, 53% of the companies in its investment portfolio are founded by women, while 47% have Black founders and 12% have Latino founders. The firm has invested in more than 60 start-ups and announced in March that it raised $111 million.
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Sharon Bowen, chair of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), left, Serena Williams, pro tennis player and founder of Serena Ventures, and Alison Rapaport, managing partner of Serena Ventures, are shown during the opening bell on the floor of the NYSE on Aug. 26, 2022. | Getty Images
Williams has a net worth of $260 million, according to real-time tracking by Forbes. In addition to founding Serena Ventures, the 40-year-old has established brand partnerships throughout her career with big names including Gatorade, Ford, Hanesbrands, Gucci and Nike, which named an office building at its global headquarters after the athlete earlier this year.
Below is a FOX Business roundup of some of Serena Ventures' most notable investments.
MasterClass is a streaming platform that offers members access to more than 150 instructors and classes across fields including arts and entertainment, business, design and style, sports and gaming, writing and more.
Williams, who revealed in the Vogue essay that she wrote one of MasterClass' "very first checks," offers her own class on the techniques, drills and mental skills that helped her win 23 Grand Slam singles titles.
Tonal, a smart home gym, raised $45 million in Series C financing in April 2019 from a group of investors, including Serena Ventures.
Serena Ventures participated in Tonal’s $45 million Series C financing round in April 2019. (Tonal)
In February, Tonal announced that Williams would become a brand ambassador as part of its "Strength Made Me" campaign.
"The way I train is always changing, but strength training has been fundamental to my performance, and that’s why I love the Tonal so much. It’s a different way to train that challenges me and has made me a lot stronger," Williams said. "In the beginning of my career, I didn’t embrace strength — I had it, I looked it, I felt it, but I didn't embrace it. Once I did, I realized that there is something so beautiful about being strong, and I’m proud to be a part of this Tonal campaign that celebrates that."
Williams contributed to a $300 million Series E financing round for Impossible Foods in May 2019.
An Impossible Foods sign is displayed during the company’s grocery store product launch in Los Angeles on Sept. 20, 2019. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Other individual investors in the round included Jay Brown, Kirk Cousins, Paul George, Jay-Z, Trevor Noah, Alexis Ohanian, Kal Penn, Katy Perry, Questlove, Ruby Rose, Phil Rosenthal, Jaden Smith, will.i.am and Zedd.
Noom, a subscription-based app for tracking a person's food intake and exercise habits, announced an investment for an undisclosed amount from Serena Ventures in 2019. A representative did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment.
"I’m a true believer that everyone should have easy access to a healthier life, which is why I decided to invest in Noom," Williams said in a release announcing the investment. "Noom’s mix of empathetic human support paired with modern technology and science makes it possible for people to achieve significant, lasting behavior change."
Noom, a subscription-based app for tracking a person’s food intake and exercise habits, announced an investment from Serena Ventures in 2019. (Noom)
In 2021, Noom raised approximately $540 million in Series F funding led by Silver Lake. Other investors that participated in the round included Oak HC/FT, Temasek, Novo Holdings, Sequoia Capital, RRE and Samsung Ventures.
In July 2021, Serena Ventures participated in $10 million in Series A funding for Esusu, a financial technology company for rent reporting and data solutions for credit building.
"We invested in Esusu’s mission and have a strong conviction in the potential of this space," Williams said in a statement at the time. "The tech-enabled model really creates win-win situations for stakeholders from renters to landlords. Our significant investment in Esusu will help the company scale and unlock more financial opportunity for people."
Esusu is available in 2 million homes representing more than $2.4 billion in gross lease value nationwide.