Serena Williams is known for her fierceness and power on the tennis court, but off the court she has just as much impact. Williams, an international tennis superstar, is also a philanthropist who helps people around the world through her role as a UNICEF Global Ambassador, The Williams Sisters Fund and chiefly, The Serena Williams Fund.
The Serena Williams Fund has two main goals: Creating equity through education and assisting victims of senseless violence. “Those are my passions and where I see making the biggest impact,” Williams says, “Venus and I also created The Williams Sisters Fund in 2016 so we could work on some projects as a team.”
Williams believes that education creates equity in opportunity. Growing up, she says she and her sisters were taught the value of education. She abhors the idea that children are denied receiving an education due to lack of resources. Whether she is building the school itself (as she has done with Build Africa Schools in Kenya and Helping Hands Jamaica in Jamaica), supplementing classroom materials (as she did in partnership with Donors Choose) or helping deserving students with unmet financial need to attend college (as she has done through the Serena Scholars program), Williams is intent on using her platform and network to help others receive the education they deserve.
“Education is the great equalizer. Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn,” she says. “I have always been aware of inequities in the world and I always wanted to be a part of the solution.”
Williams’ other passion is to help individuals and communities affected by senseless violence. It’s an issue close to Williams’ heart. In 2003, her oldest sister Yetunde Price was killed by an act of senseless gun violence. To honor Yetunde’s life, Williams and her family opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center in Compton, California. The center will help those who need physical, emotional and financial support access all necessary and available resources.
“I know first-hand the devastating effect violence has on loved ones and I wanted to help others get the resources they need to heal,” she says. “Standing at the Resource Center dedication with my mom, sisters, nieces and nephews and vowing to help victims of violence in Yetunde’s name was a powerful moment.”
Williams knows this is simply the beginning of her philanthropic work and hopes to improve the lives of many.