Money

Here’s what Venus Williams did with her first big paycheck—and it's not what you might expect

Tennis legend Venus Williams started earning big money from a young age. When she won her first Grand Slam title at age 20, it came with a check for £430,000.

But Williams didn’t do what most people would be inclined to do, or even what other pro athletes do, with their first six-figure check. Rather than splurging on a new car or clothes, she put all of her earnings straight into the bank.

“I really didn’t spend any of it,” she tells CNBC Make It. “I just didn't want to become a statistic, or one of those athletes that had it all and then in the end had nothing. That was always in the back of my mind, so it made me want to be more realistic with how I spent money.”

Venus Williams won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2000
Clive Brunskill | Getty Images
Venus Williams won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2000

Since that first big win, she’s collected six more Grand Slam singles titles and raked in a total of $40.5 million in prize money. But her conservative money philosophy hasn’t changed. “I think we all have patterns,” says Williams, who, in addition to still competing on the pro circuit, has an apparel line, an interior design company and partnerships with the likes of Systane Complete dry eye drops. “Some people are savers instinctually. Other people spend instinctually.”

Williams is a saver, and that runs in the family: When her sister Serena earned her first million-dollar check, she deposited it directly into the bank and walked away.

While Williams, now 38 and worth an estimated $75 million, still plays it safe with her money, she admits to one guilty pleasure: “I love jewelry. ... I go splurge on that occasionally.”

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