Serena Williams just shared a long kept secret on Instagram. She has been investing in women and diverse companies for the past 5 years.
The tennis champ revealed Wednesday that she launched her own investing fund, Serena Ventures, in 2014. “Yes, I know I can keep a secret,” she said in the post. “We have so many exciting things coming up!” Her fund focuses on early-stage companies that embrace “diverse leadership [and] individual empowerment” and look for creative new ways to address age-old problems.
In the past 5 years, the professional athlete shared (in a second Instagram photo) that she has invested in over 20 companies, ranging from Billie, a razor subscription company for women, to Brandless, an online retailer of everyday items without big brand names, to Lola, a reproductive health subscription company.
The announcement follows the news last month that Williams had teamed up with Bumble dating app founder Whitney Wolfe Herd to launch the Bumble Fund, basically a VC investing company created by women, for women.
Bumble Fund’s main focus is on early-stage investing — seed rounds are anywhere from $5,000 to $250,000 — with an emphasis on investing in women of color and other underserved communities.
Since launching in 2018, the company has invested in nine women-led companies, including traveling beauty conference BeautyCon, venture capital firm Cleo Capital, and business equality program Translator.
Both moves by Williams are welcome news. It’s no secret that women-led startups struggle to receive an equal share of VC as their male counterparts. It’s even tougher for women of color. In 2017, black business women only received 0.2 percent of all venture capital, according to Fast Company.
Yet the 2012 Survey of Business Owners based on census data showed that between 2007 and 2012, 1.5 million companies were run by black women entrepreneurs — making up nearly 60 percent of all black-owned businesses.
Williams’ post was well-received, with over 15,000 likes and hundreds of comments. Her husband Alexis Ohanian, who is an entrepreneur himself as the cofounder of Reddit, perhaps said it best: “Proud of you, Mama!”