Venus Williams is one of the greats.
The 43-year-old is still an active player and stamped herself in history when she first graced professional tennis. Over the years, Venus has rightfully earned seven Grand Slam singles titles, 49 Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles titles, 22 WTA doubles, 14 Grand Slam doubles with her sister Serena Williams — they went undefeated — and 2 Grand Slams mixed, IMG Academy reports.
Let’s not forget Venus is an Olympic champion boasting four gold medals and, from the 2016 Rio Olympics, a silver medal in the mixed doubles. This feat placed her as the most decorated tennis player in the history of the world’s foremost sports competition since its inception in 1896, according to its website.
After stepping foot on the tennis court as a professional at the age of 14 in Oakland, CA, the young prodigy made her presence known.
Venus was just 15 years old at the time and was ranked third in the world.
The eight-figure deal was a first for a Black female athlete at this time, according to Parade.
This came at a time when Venus was receiving various offers from other companies, many in contact with her father, Richard Williams, and agent, Kevin Davis. However, Reebok already had the tennis star’s loyalty.
“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 New York Times.
In April 2000, her contract with Reebok expired. However, the company had no intention of losing the star athlete. Venus, who won her first Wimbledon tournament against defending champion Lindsay Davenport within that same year, would sign a new contract with Reebok in December 2000. The deal was reportedly valued at $40 million across five years, per the outlet.
“This is a big moment in my life,” Venus expressed, according to The New York Times. “My life is one dream coming true after another.”
Angel Martinez, Reebok’s chief marketing officer, told the outlet, “There is no better athlete, no better individual in this world to define what it means to overcome obstacles.”
Among female athletes, Venus’ endorsement deal with Reebok was the biggest.
“‘This is the first deal for a woman athlete that is in the upper echelon of male athletes,” Bob Williams of Burns Sports shared with the outlet. “‘It’s the first time an advertiser felt that it had to pay top dollar for a female athlete. This is more of a sponsorship than an endorsement.'”
What Venus has and continues to achieve remains a point of inspiration for generations to follow. At the time of this writing, she has cultivated a net worth of $95 million, as AFROTECH previously told you. She earned $42.5 million alone in prize money throughout her career, according to WTA Tennis. She also made several investments, which include her clothing line EleVen, a sunscreen line, and a partnership with BetterHelp.