Leadership lessons from retired tennis star Serena Williams


tennis star Serena Williams recently announcement she would retire and pursue opportunities outside of the sports world. The unexpected announcement sparked comments from business executives about the leadership lessons business leaders can learn from Williams’ accomplishments on and off the tennis courts.


“The first lesson we can learn in business from Serena Williams is resilience,” Andrew Rosenpresident of financial planning firm Diversified, said via email.

“Serena has been incredibly resilient in her career, coming back from injuries and setbacks, and it’s also an important lesson in business, to be resilient when business and projects don’t necessarily work out the way you want them to.” he pointed out.

teams matter

“Another lesson to be learned from Serena Williams is the importance of your team,” Rosen noted.

“While her tennis seems like a lonely sport, Serena has surrounded herself with a team of experts she has met to help her succeed. It is important as a business leader to recognize that you are not You’re not an expert in everything and delegate and trust your team to get you to the finish line,” he advised.

Have the mindset of a winner

“When Serena was little, she was not very good at tennis” Matt Doherty, a former head coach at the University of North Carolina, where he was the 2001 National Coach of the Year, recalled via email. He is now a leadership and team building expert and president of Vistage Worldwide.

“She had to play second fiddle to her more established and famous sister, Venus. Venus got to play in a lot of good events, while Serena served as a warm-up partner and then had to watch, but that helped Serena. This led her to work harder while studying the best players in the world competing at the game she loved. She turned a negative into a positive. That’s the winning mindset,” he observed.

Set your own course

“Dealed with strong personalities throughout her life, from her father, Richard, to her longtime coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena has always made it clear that the ultimate decisions will be hers. This is a remarkably important lesson for any leader,” Aaron SolomonHead of Strategy and Chief Legal Analyst at digital sketchsaid in a statement.

“Whether in business or in sport, there can only be one person who sets your course and determines your own trajectory to success,” he recommended.

“Always plan your next move”

“Always plan your next move or your exit strategy”, Victoria PelletierManaging Director, Global CEO Transformation at Accenture, observed via email.

“Serena has worked on other interests and passions, from clothing lines to philanthropic endeavors, giving her a head start in her retirement/next steps.

“You are more than your current role/job – you must create a strong brand that is based not only on the subject matter expertise you have developed and are paid for, but on all the unique elements that make up CEO You… ” she advised.

“When you choose to stop and focus your mind, body and energies on something else, create your own release. Serena did it in remarkable elegance last week thanks to the perfectly timed release of the vogue article,” Solomon noted.

“Business leaders tend to be less skilled in this area because they are often not [full] control when and how they leave a business or industry,” he noted. “The key here is to follow Serena’s lead and be proactive, envision the course you want and make the right plan and decisions to get there,” Solomon concluded.

Learn to make the transition

“Elite athletes are on a mission to train to improve every day, and they provide a valuable model of daily practice for corporate environments,Heidi Brooksassociate professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, said via email.

“Business leaders have the opportunity to learn from Williams’ transition to [her next] phase-these skills to learn every day in a new arena while juggling parenthood and other demands. Williams shifts her professional focus to an area new to her. It may take a while, but keep an eye out to see how she shakes up the world of finance as a parent. Many leaders in all kinds of fields have the ability to shift to new capabilities,” she concluded.

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