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Serena Williams on motherhood and money

  • The tennis great says money was never her motivation.
  • "I just played for the love of the sport."
  • If her daughter played and received equal pay, that would be a success, Williams says.

She's one of the world's highest-paid athletes, but Serena Williams says money wasn't a motivator.

Over the course of her career, the 35-year-old has earned tennis Grand Slam titles, Olympic gold medals and more than $84 million in prize money on top of a slew of endorsement deals and multimillion-dollar partnerships. She is the only woman to land on Forbes' 2017 list of The World's 100 Highest Paid Athletes (at No. 51).

"I just played for the love of the sport," Williams said. "I've never played for money. Not once did I think about a check."

Of course, the checks have poured in. The superstar athlete has signed deals with Puma, Nike, Delta, Gatorade, IBM and JPMorgan Chase among others.

But Williams said her father Richard Williams' hands-off approach when it came to money encouraged her to learn about finance early on.

"Since I was a teenager I've made every financial decision in my life, and I've had to learn how to make good ones," she said in a conversation with Maverick Carter in an episode of "Kneading Dough," a new series by Chase and digital media company Uninterrupted.

When she received the first check in the amount of $1 million, she simply deposited it directly into her account. "I didn't touch it," she said. "I should have taken a picture of it, but selfies didn't exist back then."

Serena Williams of the United States returns a shot to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands during their Women's Singles Second Round match on Day Three of the 2015 US Open.
Getty Images
Serena Williams of the United States returns a shot to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands during their Women's Singles Second Round match on Day Three of the 2015 US Open.

Williams, along with sister Venus, has also been successful in their fight to narrow the gender pay gap in their sport.

The tennis great, who is expecting her first child this fall with Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, said her hope is to further that goal for the next generation of women players.

"If my daughter were to play in a sport, and she was able to have ... equal pay or equal rights, that would be a success," Williams said. "If not, I would want her to speak up for it."

Williams shared the lessons she learned, the role money has played in her life and her hopes for child in the latest episode of the "Kneading Dough" series. Earlier episodes featured Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar LeBron James and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.