Money

Why Venus and Serena's dad made them listen to 'foreclosure tapes' when they were young

Venus and Serena’s dad and first coach, Richard Williams, didn’t just teach them how to hit a perfect forehand when they were kids. He also taught them to be businesswomen, even if they didn’t fully realize it at the time.

When the rising tennis stars were kids, their dad “had us listen to foreclosure tapes on the way to practice and tournaments,” Venus tells CNBC Make It. That means learned about how to make money buying foreclosure properties.

Most of the information went over their heads, Venus adds, but that didn't matter: "It was just the mindset that he created of thinking for yourself, thinking outside the box and [having an] entrepreneurial spirit. My dad was all about all of that.”

Richard Williams with his daughters Venus, left, and Serena in Compton, CA in 1991
 Paul Harris | Getty Images
Richard Williams with his daughters Venus, left, and Serena in Compton, CA in 1991

Their dad’s strategy worked. In addition to dominating the sport of tennis, both sisters have established themselves as successful entrepreneurs.

Venus, 38, is the founder and CEO of athletic apparel line EleVen, founder of design company V-Starr Interiors and has partnerships with the likes of Systane Complete dry eye drops. Serena, 36, also has her own clothing line, Aneres, and, in 2017, joined the board of consumer survey startup SurveyMonkey.

Plus, they have been minority owners of the Miami Dolphins since 2009. They were the first female African Americans to hold an ownership stake in an NFL franchise.

Their dad’s foreclosure tape collection helped establish an entrepreneurial mindset, and so did competing. One of the reasons she’s so successful in business, Venus tells CNBC Make It, is because of her experiences on court: “Some of my best experiences have actually come from sport — learning those lessons in sport of setting goals, winning and losing and failures — and just incorporating those lessons.”

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