Serena Williams knows success, but doesn't think she's 'made it'

Serena Williams doesn’t think she’s 'made it'

She's the number one tennis player and one of the richest athletes in the world, but if you ask Serena Williams, she says she hasn't "made it."

"I don't think like that," Williams told CNBC. "I'm still going and doing the best that I can."

Serena Williams, Tennis Player
Cameron Spencer | Getty Images

At 34, Williams has achieved what most people can only dream about. She has 21 Grand Slam titles, four Olympic gold medals, and she's earned more than $75 million in prize money.

The reigning champion of Wimbledon and the French Open is widely regarded by many as the greatest female tennis player of all time. And if that's not all. She's got her own foundation, a successful fashion line on HSN and is a minority owner of the Miami Dolphins.

Whether it's her career or a business idea, Williams says the approach is similar and that her determination and perseverance have been key.

"You can really carry that on to life in terms of everything I do and approach," she said.

When times get hard, Williams says a reboot can be the key to turning things around.

"Sometimes you have to restart, or get a new business plan or think of a whole new idea," she said. "I have just realized that you don't want to give up and should continue to find that success."

I think success is how you define it. Each person has their own success point and grade.
Serena Willliams

Despite her storied career, Williams says winning a Grand Slam or championship doesn't necessarily mean you're successful.

"I think success is how you define it," she said. "Each person has their own success point and grade."

As Williams' tennis career winds down, Serena Inc is just getting started. She said she's gotten advice from an unlikely mentor: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. "I really look up to her and think she's an incredible businesswoman," said Williams.

Already one of the most recognizable names in sports, representing more than a dozen major companies, Williams is always looking for the next big thing.

"I look for things that people will really enjoy and something that I will enjoy, too. When you bring those aspects together," she said, "it can help it to really be fun."

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