Venus Williams is undoubtedly one of the greatest female tennis players to touch the court, and the endorsement deals she’s inked over her impressive career are a testament to her greatness.
In fact, the first deal that the two-time U.S. Open champion signed was when she was a teenage prodigy out of Compton. It didn’t take long for a major company to recognize her talent and offer her an endorsement deal. In 1995, at just 15 years old and holding a world ranking of third, she inked a groundbreaking $12 million contract with Reebok, as per The New York Times.
This landmark eight-figure deal was a first for a Black female athlete at the time, a historic moment in sports, according to Parade magazine. Despite receiving numerous offers from other companies, many courting her father, Richard Williams, and her agent, Kevin Davis, Venus remained loyal to Reebok.
“Even when I wasn’t officially with Reebok, I kept wearing Reebok. I kept wearing my lucky Reebok dress. I didn’t really want to switch my allegiance,” Venus told the Times in 2000.
In April 2000, her initial contract with Reebok came to an end, but the company had no intentions of letting go of this superstar athlete. Within the same year, Venus secured her first Wimbledon tournament victory against defending champion Lindsay Davenport and later, in December 2000, she signed a new contract with Reebok, reportedly valued at $40 million over five years, as reported by the outlet.
“This is a big moment in my life,” Venus added. “My life is one dream coming true after another.”
Among female athletes, Venus’ endorsement deal with Reebok was the biggest ever. Bob Williams of Burns Sports noted, “This is the first deal for a woman athlete that is in the upper echelon of male athletes, he said.
Venus’s endorsement portfolio didn’t end with Reebok. Over the years, she’s been the face of various other brands, including EleVen, her own clothing line.
Her influence has extended to wellness, with partnerships that include a sunscreen line to promote sun safety, and a collaboration with BetterHelp, an online counseling platform dedicated to supporting mental health awareness.
Still Going Strong
The tennis luminary is still going strong at 43 years old, despite her early exit at the U.S. Open which marked her 100th match at the tournament. She was the first of the Williams sisters to gain notoriety in professional tennis, and has she left an indelible mark on the sport’s history.
Over the years, Venus has earned seven Grand Slam singles titles, 49 Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles championships, 22 WTA doubles titles, and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, all in partnership with her sister Serena Williams – a formidable unbeaten duo. She also boasts two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.
Williams’ achievements continue to inspire generations to come. At the time of writing, her net worth stands at an impressive $95 million. Throughout her career, she raked in $42.5 million in prize money alone, according to WTA Tennis.