Some Non-Tennis Lessons From Serena Williams


Welcome to the month of September.


Last Friday, the world bid farewell to one of the most accomplished athletes (male or female) to have ever graced the scene. In her words, she is not retiring but transiting from the game.


Yes, you guessed right; I am talking about Serena Williams. An athlete who is in an elite group of those easily identified by only their 1st name.


Today, I won’t be talking about her accomplishments on the tennis court; as a lot has been and will still be said and written about them.


However, I’ll be discussing (mainly) the non-tennis lessons I think we can learn from her:


  • All it takes is a dream: during her speech after she lost her 3rd round match, she thanked her parents for their support. Indeed, very little can be said about her without mentioning the audacity and boldness of Richard Williams (her father). The man who never played the game but watched it on television and believed his young daughters could not only play the game but could become champions.


  • Mind you, I’m not discounting all she did to reach those heights but just pointing out the fact that she could, because someone first believed in her!


  • Trust me, if we work at it, we can leave a befitting legacy for our children. In Richard’s case, he didn’t give them wealth but rather the confidence to go and conquer and boy, his daughter(s) did just that.


  • There’s a time for everything: In her article in the August edition of Vogue, Serena talked about the fact that she couldn’t combine active tennis and her desire for a second child. That she could only concentrate on only one of them per time.


  • Although a lot has been said about if she would have had to make that choice if she was male; nature and religion always reinforce the concept of times and seasons.


  • The lesson here for me is the need to gain the wisdom to recognise when to exit the scene whether in any activity or investing specifically. Many stories have been told about those who made a fortune or lost it all due to the timing of their decisions.


  • Impact is what matters: From the reactions of her fans globally, it is clear Serena represents more than an athlete, particularly to ethnic minorities. Like Tiger Woods & Lewis Hamilton, Serena has reigned larger than life in a historically sport known for white dominance.


  • For me, impact is key and so in life; the aim should always be to make the right impact as you don’t know who your story might inspire. That’s why it’s key to teach the younger ones early about (money) mistakes we learnt late in life.


  • Certainly, Serena has made an impact as younger champions such as Naomi Osaka & Coco Gauff; have severally mentioned the part she played in their decision to play professional tennis.


  • Even athletes can have plan B: In the same way employees plan for life outside the office, Serena is one of the examples of athletes who have prepared for the inevitable.


  • She did mention that she was going to concentrate on her venture capital firm and fashion business in the next phase of her life.


  • I guess it goes without saying that one must always think about what comes next.


  • We all need somebody: During Friday’s speech, she made a special shout-out to her elder sister and ride or die – Venus. As she tearfully said, “without Venus, there’s no Serena”.


  • At their peak, Venus was her closest rival and competition but the sisters remained close. In fact, it was Venus who pushed her to enrol in college to study fashion and who helped her husband plan her (Serena’s) wedding proposal.


  • Truly, we all need that friend who we can count on to be in our corner & if it turns out to be a family member, even better.


Our annual Smart Stewards Summit will be held on the 23rd-25th of September 2022, and it promises to be enlightening. With virtual and physical participation options, it’s an opportunity to converge engage, discuss and learn about navigating this financial season, as we anticipate bigger and better days ahead. Please read more about the summit HERE.


Till next week, do have a fantastic week ahead.


Toyin Oguntuyi