The Tennis-Serena brand will remain strong after retirement


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BENGALURU — The end of Serena Williams’ stellar tennis career will have little to no impact on the value of the American brand and her earnings from endorsements may even increase after retirement, experts say. industry at Reuters.

Williams appeared to suggest last month that she would end her playing career at the US Open, although she was a little more vague about her intentions after her blowout first-round victory at Flushing Meadows in front of a celebrity crowd.

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However, her third-round loss to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday night was likely her last Grand Slam match in a sport Williams has dominated for more than two decades.

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Sportswear giant Nike said it would continue to partner with Williams, who turns 41 later this month, after his retirement. Other major sponsors are likely to follow suit.

« While Serena’s visibility on the pitch will fade…I don’t see any decline in her brand value, » said Bob Dorfman, sports marketing analyst at Pinnacle Advertising in San Francisco.

« More than a tennis superstar, he’s a legitimate icon, » Dorfman said. « The highest-earning female athlete of all time is sure to remain a mark of high power even after she puts her racquet down. »

Serena’s brand value will only fade if she decides to stay out of the spotlight, said Lisa Delpy Neirotti, director of sports management programs at George Washington University.

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« But if she becomes the voice of a cause, if she stays relevant and in front of her fan base, then her value increases, » Neirotti added.

« She’s been such a powerful player on and off the pitch…I think she’ll be relevant in social causes. »


While several elite male athletes have forged successful career marks after play, Williams’ accomplishments, including 23 Grand Slam singles titles, position her well ahead of other female athletes in terms of major sponsor appeal. .

« As no other active player comes close to her level of accomplishment, everyone who comes into women’s tennis will continue to be compared to Serena for a long time to come, » said Phil de Picciotto, Founder and President of the agency. Sporty Octagon.

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NBA great Michael Jordan has shown athletes can earn more in retirement than in their playing days, while injured Roger Federer still tops the list of the world’s highest-paid tennis players despite 14 months of inaction.

Few female athletes have had a lasting appeal for sponsors after retirement. But Williams, who earned $35.1 million this year to edge out former men’s world number one Rafa Nadal ($31.4 million) and Novak Djokovic ($27.1 million), should be an exception.

In June, she was named to Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women, with an estimated net worth of $260 million. Her former tennis rival, Maria Sharapova, was the only other athlete on the list.

« An athlete’s stash can last well beyond retirement, especially if they have GOAT (Greatest of All Time) status like Serena, » said Victor Matheson, sports economist at College of the Holy Cross. in Massachusetts.

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With Williams saying she will focus on her family after retirement, upcoming endorsement deals could also change, said Iliya Rybchin, partner at marketing consultancy Elixirr Consulting.

“Serena is one of those rare players who has transcended the sport. Her value to brands is so much more than ‘Serena the tennis player,’” Rybchin added.

« When brands like Wilson, Nike and others first approached her, it was about getting an exceptional, high-performing tennis player.

« Now…the characteristics that are valuable to them are different, because they look at the demographics it caters to and the young players who might be inspired by it, » Rybchin said. « For most brands, that story still works, whether it’s in the field or not. »

Williams’ career price tag of $94.6 million is dwarfed by her endorsement earnings – estimated to be around $340 million – and the ball is in her court as she contemplates life without the demands of being a elite athlete.

“She will now have plenty of time and opportunity to expand her sponsor base,” said Larry Mann, partner at sports media and marketing agency rEvolution.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair and Uday Sampath Kumar, additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Osmond, Bill Berkrot and Pritha Sarkar)



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