Serena Williams’ future is exhilarating even as she leaves tennis behind

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Serena Williams, nearly 41 years into her eternity, will continue to age well. she will soon be finished with tournament tennismaybe in the next few days, but that only means The cultural icon can replace the player. This is their beginning, not an end.

If you’ve been impressed by their longevity on the pitch, just wait and watch and be amazed again. Her profound impact is poised to endure and allow her to break through yet another barrier, that for retired American women athletes. Few superstars, regardless of gender, survive their playing days. In women’s athletics, the immortals are celebrated for their social impact and pioneering role in an unjust sporting world. But they also lacked cultural magnetism, which is reflected in the economic power Williams wields. This brings her closer to Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or LeBron James than any woman has ever been.

With sustained excellence and enduring authenticity, Williams could claim it all: admiration, fame, wealth, power, transcendence. As she exits tennis, her exit speed is observable. She doesn’t just get her flowers. Not only has she secured a legacy that will forever transcend all sports. Not only is she anchored in pop culture and primed to become a multi-faceted mogul. Williams still has endless blank pages in her playbook, a pen that never runs out of ink, and the freedom to live the rest of her life however she wants, knowing she has the leverage, those dreams to realize.

“I never liked the word retirement“, Williams enrolled a Vogue cover story announcing their retirement plans. “It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve taken this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use this word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m about to do Evolution.

The most extraordinary sporting life requires distance to fully understand it. Williams has accomplished so much and despite being in the public eye for a quarter of a century, means her moment is impossible to capture. Time will make her story all the more impressive when perspective catches up with wonder. But even then, she’ll still seem like a character from the future. Your mighty brand is getting stronger. Your example will inspire generations. And her earning potential will remain so high you’ll think she never stopped playing.

forbes estimates Williams net worth is $260 million. A year ago, she wasn’t playing much and was earning about $300,000 for her on-court performance. Still, she earned another $45 million, mostly from endorsement deals with about a dozen companies, from Nike to Gucci to Anheuser-Busch. Three years ago she launched a fashion line that is still successful today. She and her sister Venus have owned a small stake in the Miami Dolphins since 2009. She announced in March that her venture capital fund, Serena Ventures Raised $111 million in his first round.

Sally Jenkins: For Serena Williams, retirement might just be the latest reinvention

Williams is married to Alexis Ohanian, an entrepreneur who co-founded Reddit. Before falling in love, they bonded while talking business. Williams will remain relevant through financial savvy, fame and idolization of younger stars who will follow her script.

Naomi Osaka has already learned from Williams and has become the highest paid athlete in sports with her own style. In our male-dominated sporting society, there is no women’s sport that sticks in the memory, undermining the marketability of even the biggest stars. But there are holes in this misogynist setup, and because Williams held onto it for so long, she was able to carve out her own space with an approach that can be mimicked and expanded upon.

In a time when authenticity is worth its weight in gold, Williams embodies it. She has never changed. She was characterized by skepticism, sexism and racism. Her sustained greatness compelled almost everyone to settle down to her level or shut the fuck up.

“I definitely see her as a role model,” said Aliyah Boston, South Carolina forward and reigning women’s varsity basketball player of the year. “For me it is important to see that strong and strong women dominate. I want to follow in their footsteps.”

It always comes back to the image of power that Williams projects. She is defined by her muscular physique and the power she plays with. Boston is 20 years younger than Williams. She was born when Williams began taking up tennis. As she grew into a physical 6ft 5 post player, Boston looked for athletes who could reassure her that dominance goes with femininity. Williams showed Boston that there is beauty in power and that there is beauty in uncompromising black women unleashing their power.

In Williams, Boston saw a fashion icon with a 125-mph serve. She saw Williams twerk in a Beyoncé music video and then smash her racquet at the US Open. She saw power – in William’s game and personality. But above all, Boston saw a woman free to be a full woman.

“When I was younger and playing sports, it was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to look too aggressive and angry,'” said Boston, 20, a native of the US Virgin Islands. “Serena, she’s dominant, but she is who she is. She never changes for anyone. Seeing that was a great vision for me because when you step onto the basketball court as a post player, you never want to go punky. This is us. This is how we compete. I can embrace that and off the pitch I can embrace my girly side.”

The world tries to convince us that this is the opposite of grace, but after almost three decades in the spotlight, how can you not see the grace in Williams? Once her power alerted the gatekeepers of perception, she wore them down with her relentlessness.

Williams has mastered the concept of owning your narrative, but it still comes across as human, vulnerable, and real. She will leave tennis as an honest and open mother, as a boss and in many minds as a GOAT. And that’s just the end of phase 1.

It’s clear that you haven’t seen Serena Williams last. But what if you haven’t seen the best of her either? As the icon begins to evolve, the revolutionary tennis star lives on in the sporting successors that will follow her blueprint. The future looks inspiring.

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