It was never about the money for tennis legend Serena Williams.

During an interview on Bloomberg Originals’ “The Deal” podcast hosted by Alex Rodriguez and Jason Kelly, she recalls forgetting to pick up her award checks after winning tournaments, necessitating friendly reminders from her accountant.

“When I started tennis, first of all, I’m from Compton, CA, and I remember playing on these courts, and my life was great. I never felt like I needed anything. So for me, money was never a motivation,” Williams told the hosts. “I remember when I first started, back in the day, they used to write out checks after you won your tournament. And I would always forget to get the checks. And so at the end of the year they would always have to say, ‘Serena, we have all these checks for you.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ And at the time, I had an accountant who would be like, ‘Serena. They sent me all these checks that you would forget to get from the tournaments.'”


Instead, Williams was more focused on simply winning on the court, and that she did. During her career, she won 23 major (Grand Slam) women’s singles titles, ESPN reports. Additionally, she earned 14 doubles titles with her sister Venus and two mixed doubles titles, CNN states.

Williams retired in September 2022, walking away with 73 singles titles and $94.8 million in prize earnings, per the WTA Tour.

“Looking at the success that I had financially was never my starting point,” she explained on “The Deal” podcast. “My starting point was always I just want to win championships and I want to have fun and I want to be a great tennis player. And quite frankly, I just wanted to win a Grand Slam. And I honestly, for me, everything else was a bonus.”

Following her departure from tennis, Williams would continue to find success. In fact, her off-court earnings have surpassed her tennis salary as she had earned $340 million by 2022 thanks to sponsorship deals from companies including Nike, CNN notes. She also leads Serena Ventures, which has invested in at least 66 startups, and its portfolio of companies includes at minimum 16 billion-dollar companies.

“Everything that I have, believe me, I worked really hard for,” Williams expressed on “The Deal.” “Nothing really came for free and nothing came easy. I think everything was super hard work for me. But it is cool to look back and see the success that I’ve had financially, but also multiplying that now and trying to expand that.”