The transcript from our bonus podcast with MiB: Serena Williams, Tennis Great is below.
You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Bloomberg, Overcast, and Soundcloud. Our earlier podcasts can all be found on iTunes, Soundcloud, Overcast and Bloomberg.
ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.
BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on Masters in Business, we have an extra, extra special guest. She is perhaps the greatest tennis player of all times. Her name is Serena Williams and I was fortunate enough to be able to interview her at an event recently down in Florida where we discussed not only tennis, but business philanthropy, what it’s like to be so singularly focused on one single area for most of your life.
She was absolutely delightful. I found this to be a really wonderful conversation. It was actually at the Inside ETF Conference in Hollywood, Florida. There were about 2,400 people in the audience and when she was introduced, she came out to a standing ovation.
It was actually kind of funny because she’s on stage waving to the crowd and I’m kind of just waiting by the stairs, not wanting to, you know, step on her applause line. She kind of looked at me and gestured, “Come on, what are you doing? Let’s go. Get out here.” It was pretty hilarious.
I had a lot of fun with her anytime I could to make her crackup. It was just charming. She really was not only very thoughtful and savvy when it comes to business, but just delightful and charming. It’s amazing that someone who is as fierce a competitor as she is could be so just, you know, lovely off court.
We did play a couple of sets of tennis and she won 6-3 and 7-6,1 so I have to give her that, but all told this was really a wonderful experience and I think, you will find it every bit as fascinating as I did.
With no further ado, my conversation with Serena Williams which took place on January 23rd, 2018 at the Inside ETF Conference in Hollywood, Florida.
I said earlier that I have the easiest job at this conference the whole weekend. I just get to sit out here and chat with Serena Williams for a few minutes.
Serena, thank you so much for doing this. We’ve been looking forward to it for a while. Let’s start chatting a little bit about what is going on right now? It’s the Australian Open, potentially your 24th major title. How difficult was it to make the decision not to compete in Melbourne?
SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: It wasn’t that difficult actually to decide not to compete. I really — when I was there, well, I wasn’t there, but when I was making the decision, I didn’t want to go to Australia just to compete.
I wanted to go to any tournament just to compete, I want to go with the mindset and the mind frame that I am here to win. I am not here just to show up and you know, just kind of take up space in the room.
So, for me that was really important and when I realized that if I went to Australia, I would be just filling a seat, I knew that that’s not how I had traditionally done my career. I always entered with a mindset frankly to win, and yes, I don’t want win them all, but at least my mental was there.
So, I didn’t make it and I am okay with it.
RITHOLTZ: Have you been watching any of the open?
WILLIAMS: A little bit. Not so much. I don’t allow my daughter, Olivia to watch too much TV, so whenever she is like nap time or something and I am home, I turn it on really fast although when she comes out, I kind of turn it off.
RITHOLTZ: So, you started playing tennis as a kid, what was that like? Was that fun or did that become a chore? Did that become a job?
WILLIAMS: It definitely was super, super fun in the beginning, but it’s like as a nine, eight-year-old kid, you definitely sometimes want to go out and play with other kids and do different things, so then it became a little bit of a chore.
And especially as a teenager, it was like more or less goal-oriented, people-oriented because you think you see these players, you see these teenagers that are actually professional and it’s like, “Oh, my god. I want to do that too.” And you realize that all the time that before that you wanted to go out there and just be a kid and just to kind of play with everyone else. You’re really grateful for those moments that you spend.
That few extra, little bit of a time, you know, just working on your craft.
RITHOLTZ: So, you’re a kid. You’re playing some tennis, did you ever stop and think, “I know, I am going to turn this into a career, and I can even guess where this going to take me.” Was there ever a moment like that where let’s see where tennis could go?
WILLIAM: Well, my dad, he was always super, super positive with both myself and my sister who you may or may not know. Famous, famous tennis player.
So, my dad was always so positive and he always taught us to think incredibly positive. He said, “You know, you are what you think. If you think you’re the best, you’re going to be the best. If you think you are mediocre, you’re going to be mediocre.”
So, that’s kind of followed me throughout my whole life. So, I always thought I would be number one. I always thought I would win a grand slam. I never thought I would have so many grand slams.
But always thought, you know, at some point, that I would have an opportunity to hold in particular the US Open trophy.
RITHOLTZ: So, you’ve always been in excellent physical condition as a competitor, how difficult is it to maintain that peak physical condition as well as the mental condition because that’s clearly a big part of your game?
WILLIAMS: Yes, mental aspect is a huge part of my game. Physical is tough as well. It’s a part of the job. You know, one day — a few years ago, I described and I realized that for the first time, I realized that my job was to stay fit.
Simply put, so I was like, “Okay, you have to have a better diet. You have to do this.” You know, that’s my job, literally that’s my job.
RITHOLTZ: That’s not my job. Clearly.
WILLIAMS: But, no, I was like, “You know what, Serena,” and that gave me the motivation just to work harder on that, so sometimes, breaking things down like simple, so simple like that just can also help, but mental — it’s always been something innate for me.
Like, mentally, I’ve always just — it always clicked. I’ve always wanted to be on top, to be holding the trophies. I have always wanted that, so mentally, I knew what it took to get there and physically, even today, I am just like — trying to get back and trying to get that physical back.
I got the mental, but I am just trying to get that physical back.
RITHOLTZ: So, as we all get a little older, our body changes a little bit. You just had a baby. How does the physical training evolve? How do you adjust over time? Is your routine the same as it was a couple of years ago? What sort of adjustments have you made?
WILLIAMS: You know, throughout the years, I make a lot of adjustments because I have been playing professional for like — for almost 20 years, so it’s a really long time.
So, throughout that time, I just you know, make adjustments because if I were doing the same thing 20 years later, I think I will be a little bit tired and just, I wouldn’t want to do it anymore, so every few years, I reinvent myself.
I try to reinvent exercise and also, technology has really changed a lot in terms of helping athletes perform better, perform longer. I do see lots of athletes in all sports that are playing deeper, playing when they are a lot older.
So, that’s been super helpful for me and also lots of these studies came out that I was able to help performance, peak of athletes, so it’s been really interesting, so those — that type of stuff wasn’t available, you know, 10 or 15 or 20 years ago and it just started becoming more available in the past, you know, seven years or so.
And that’s really been helping me to be able to continue to evolve.
RITHOLTZ: Which raises the next question, how much longer do you want to play for professionally?
WILLIAMS: Yes, I don’t know. I don’t know. I feel like there is one day, I am going to wake up and I am going to say, “I’m done.” And I know that when that will be, and I will know the feeling and I don’t have that feeling yet.
I didn’t have it you know, in the last year, with everything that happened, and you know, so when it comes, I’ll know.
RITHOLTZ: So, you’re 23, Margaret Court is at 24, is it safe to say you want to go to 25? 26?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it’s no secret anymore that Margaret Court — I mean, that I would love to catch up with Margaret Court. She played a different era, so her 24 grand slams were a little bit different in the open-air tennis — long story, but (inaudible) —
RITHOLTZ: Arguably, what you did was harder than what she did?
WILLIAMS: Yes, it was — yes, because it was a different draw and it was — there are different elements, so they changed it in, I think the ’60s to open-air tennis, and so that’s when it became people like me playing.
She also incidentally played in open-air tennis and won several grand slams in open-air and so that was really awesome for her too.
But, wait — what was your question?
RITHOLTZ: So, 24, 25, 30? How high do you want to set the bar for whoever comes after you?
WILLIAMS: Sorry, I think it’s interesting when I — there was — 18 was my first goal because Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, they both had 18 grand slams each.
And that was thing, I was like — and I had 17 at the time and I was like, “I’ve got to get to 18. I’ve got to get to 18. I’ve got to get to 18.” And then, I put so much pressure on myself that I lost three in a row. I lost three grand slams in a room really, really bad and I couldn’t play. It was just way too much pressure and I talked to my coach and he sat me down and he said, “Why are you trying to get to 18? This makes no sense. Like everyone puts all of these pressure on you. Your goal should be 30 or 40. Eighteen is such a low goal.”
RITHOLTZ: Yes, no pressure there.
WILLIAMS: But to me, it made sense because I set my goal for just what was in sight, and I think subconsciously, a lot of people set their goal on what is already there. Why not reach for a higher goal?
And so, I really learned from that that yes, Margaret Court has 24, but why would I want to reach for that when there’s more, and so that conversation really helped me. I ended up winning, I think it was the US Open after that. And I just was able to relax, and so to answer your question, I don’t know. I’ll just — whatever I am able to get, if any, that’s what I will be going for.
RITHOLTZ: You did a recent “Vanity Fair” cover and in the article, you discussed how once you stopped focusing on the short-term and relaxed, it really just changed the game for you and it became more fun. Discuss that a little bit.
WILLIAMS: Yes, it’s — once you stop — once I stopped looking at the short-term, I was just able — like something released. It was like something chemically released in me and I totally relaxed. So, I think I won four in a row at that point, and it was just — it was a lot easier.
You know, sometimes, I think — I know, I and I think we, a lot of people in this room can relate, putting a lot of pressure on yourselves and it’s hard, so you just have to kind of — just take a deep breath, and you know, almost sometimes, I get to step back and then take those three steps forward.
RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about the people in the room and the business that you are in. It turns out that you and I both play tennis with the same racket, the Wilson Blade 104.
You use it to hit serves 129 miles an hour. It’s kind of neon green and black and cool, that’s why I use it. How important is your equipment to you and what does decision-making process like, saying, “I am going to use these sneakers and this racket.”
WILLIAMS: Equipment is important. I feel like, if you’re — sometimes, I have noticed that some players won’t switch equipment because equipment, because they have a sponsor that are paying more. Then they’ll start losing.
So, it’s like, it’s so important to have the right equipment. You don’t want to go out on the court with a pair of shoes that’s going to break. You’re probably going to start losing matches and in the long run, it ends up being bad for you.
So, the equipment is key. You really have to have a really good equipment and I have to say and vouch that you have a great racket.
RITHOLTZ: And you know, I can’t do the same things with it, but I can occasionally hit the ball over the net, which is a good start. So, you mentioned sponsors, what is the process like to signing who do you want to work with as a sponsor? As an endorser?
The professional sports game has changed where that’s really a substantial — for those people who, I wish Allen was out there to discuss the economics of sports, but that’s an enormous portion of revenue for professionals, what is that decision-making process like?
You work with — you work with Wilson. You work with — you’re still doing Nike? I forgot the watch company, Piguet or —
WILLIAMS: Audemars Piguet.
RITHOLTZ: Okay, and — but there’s a run of different sponsors. What is that process like?
WILLIAMS: So, for me, when — you know, when I, the further along I got in my career, I really became a lot involved with philanthropy and you know, honestly, when I was younger, I have always wanted to give.
So, one of the foundations that I look at for a sponsor is someone that says, “This is what we can do for your foundation. This is what we can donate. This is how we can help you come up with different ideas. This is how we can be involved.”
And so, for me, that means a lot to me because I don’t want to be involved with the company that generally doesn’t care about the world that we live in. So, there has been so many times I have turned down things because it just didn’t fit with who Serena as an individual and as a person is.
And then I have other companies that I do work. They all definitely have given and want to give and have given a lot of to their own various charities and things that they do as well. So, that is super, super important to me.
Also, I have to believe in the product. So, I’m not going to use something that I just don’t believe in. For instance, Wilson. I actually used them when I was like six years old. I was using a Wilson racket. They didn’t pay me. I just loved the product.
So, when the opportunity came to sign with Wilson, I was overjoyed. I was like, “Oh my goodness. This is what I use. Yes, this is great.” You know, so I don’t — when I do endorse something, it’s genuine.
Another example is Gatorade. I am from Compton, California and we couldn’t really afford to buy Gatorade, so sometimes we’ll be practicing on the public courts and my dad would leave the courts and go around the corner to the little corner market and he would buy one Gatorade, back then it was like in a glass bottle and we would all share it.
And it was the treat of the life for me. You know, and so when an opportunity came up for me to be endorsed with Gatorade, I almost fainted. It was just — this was like, “I have been using this for years. This is what I use. This is what I do all my life.” And it just tells such a great story.
So, a lot of the time — and I think every athlete kind of wants to be with Nike, so that was like — that was another one that was just really genuine, so I always followed those guidelines. I always try to be true to myself. You’re not going to see someone different here and then meet me somewhere and see a totally different individual.
So, I always try to be true to myself and true to people that I line up with.
RITHOLTZ: You dressed quite fashionably this evening. You started a fashion line. How did that come about and how hands are you with the fashion line?
WILLIAMS: So, I am very hands on, maybe too hands-on. I am going to have to figure out a way to take at least one hand out.
I went to art school. I went to Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, which is just down the street from here — and I studied fashion.
So, when I was young, I used to — we couldn’t — you had a baby doll, you can buy different outfits for it, but we couldn’t afford the outfits so, my mom taught us how to sew, and I would always make my baby doll different outfits from socks that I probably — looking back, that I probably stole — and I forget where I got those socks.
So, I’d always make different outfits like I had a million dolls. I made always different outfits for my baby dolls, so you know, I’ve always just been a fashion person. I’ve always loved designing and I designed everything I did for — I’ve been wearing on the court, most collections, not all, but a lot of the collections I designed for.
And so, it was a no-brainer, after going to school studying, I just started a collection, so I did. I’ve done that for, I don’t know, eight to nine years, and now, I am starting a different collection, so yes, it’s been really fun. It’s a lot of work. Like I said, I am incredibly hands-on, but because I know the art and I know the skill and it’s not something I am just putting my name on, and just going out to practice.
Which wouldn’t be a bad thing because I could use a little extra practice nowadays, but I’m super involved.
RITHOLTZ: So, you’re also involved in a number of Boards of Directors. What asset do you bring to these boards and these are not just similar to the fashion, you’re not just putting your name on these. These are real time-consuming meetings where important decisions get made.
WILLIAMS: Yes, very important decisions get made.
RITHOLTZ: Tell us the Boards you’re on as a start?
WILLIAMS: Well, I just recently joined the Board of SurveyMonkey. A lot of businesses use them. A very, very, very big company. So, I was really excited. In fact, we had a call yesterday. We had a meeting in February, our first Q1 meeting is in February.
So, that was exciting for me. I just joined a Board with Billie Jean King just for — that helps evolve different foundations in terms of making change and equality which is again, something that I truly, truly believe in and I got asked to join another Board, a few days ago for a new sports league that is starting that I am deciding whether I would join it or not.
But it’s interesting because I have always had this really side business mind that I often bring to the court with me and that I have always just had and I like to say I got it from my dad, but I love it. I really love being a part of the Boards.
I love — my first Board meeting, while I was a little nervous, I just kind of sat there like a deer with headlights, like, “Should I say something? Should I not say something? What do I do?” The second one, I was giving birth and I missed that one, so I was like, “I promise guys, this is not my fault. The baby is going so — ” That one was really tough, but I will be at the next one.
And it’s good. Like you said, a ton of decisions are made about the company and about how it is going to be run and how it is going to do.
RITHOLTZ: You’re also on the Board of the new Verizon AOL Yahoo combo.
RITHOLTZ: So, you have — you seem to have an inclination towards technology. I know, it’s nerve-racking —
WILLIAMS: Yes, I am actually — Tim Armstrong wanted me to be the Chairman of the Board of Advisers on that one, so we have tons of meetings coming up because we have our first Board meeting that’s for Oath, it’s the new ALO Verizon company, so we’re going to have our first Board meeting, our first Q1 actually is in a couple of weeks. So, we’re excited about that one as well.
That’s a great opportunity. I do love technology and like I was saying earlier, technology affects our lives from sport to equipment to running a company, to running business like SurveyMonkey, like it really affects our lives.
And so, for me, I have always been especially, I think a lot of people now are really trying to get into tech and just trying to think, “Well, what’s the future? What’s the next Facebook? What’s the next you know, Tesla?” And just figure out basic — it’s cliché in San Francisco, they say “Change the World.”
But that’s what these companies are doing. These companies are changing the way people think, the way people function, the way people drive, the way people catch rides, the way people ask questions.
So, this is a new time and I don’t want to be left behind. I want to be a part of that new time, so I always try to educate myself and try to stay up.
RITHOLTZ: So, who are — you obviously have an enormous background in sports, and there are a number of people who mentored you on that, who are your business mentors?
WILLIAMS: So, my business mentors are — one of my business mentors is Sheryl Sandberg, she is so great. She has been very, very amazing. She actually was very helpful with getting me on that SurveyMonkey Board. In fact, she recommended me and wanted me om that one. Anna Wintour who is another very, very powerful woman. Super, super, super smart. Tim Armstrong and I have gotten incredibly close. He is the CEO of AOL and now Verizon AOL Yahoo combination.
Yes, I have quite a few, but it’s been really great. Alexis Ohanian. I probably should mention him. We’re married, so.
RITHOLTZ: Founder of Reddit.
WILLIAMS: Founder of Reddit.
RITHOLTZ: How much time do you spend trolling around on sub-Reddit?
WILLIAMS: He really, more does these C-work now more than anything, so he has this VC firm, oh god, Initialized. He has had it for many years, but he is definitely doing 100 percent of Initialized now, so that’s super cool. That’s super fun. That’s a whole different investing and just a whole different side and a whole different world, but I am a part of as well.
But it’s fun. It’s really fun to see him, you know, go to work and to go back for that, you know, basically throwing a baseball in the air and hoping it lands in the hoop. It’s crazy.
RITHOLTZ: So, tennis obviously has a lot of parallels to the worlds of business, what has tennis taught you about business?
WILLIAMS: Well, tennis has taught me that it is important to stay focused in your business, so for instance, when I started my investing, it was very — another mentor of mine, he also is one of the Pinterest — main Pinterest people. He was telling me that it’s very important to have a focus.
I am like, “I could focus. I can do that. I do that in tennis a lot.” But he would say that, “You can have a focus on what you want to do,” so I knew that I wanted my focus was going to be female founders. Another focus of mine were — oh my gosh, I think I have mom brain, I have a really bad case.
Oh, my goodness —
RITHOLTZ: Don’t worry, it takes about 15 years, you’ll have pro.
WILLIAMS: What’s the word — oh good Lord. Anyway —
RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about your foundation?
WILLIAMS: Yes. Oh, I can’t think of the word. I am kind of lagged now. I know it all the time —
RITHOLTZ: Can I tell you, it only gets worse as you get older.
WILLIAMS: Equality. Equality. So, I am looking for you know, people of equality as well, so different races and you know, so for me, that’s super important and so that’s what I focus on.
RITHOLTZ: So, let’s bring up the foundation because you specifically established this to promote equity through education, gender, race, disability — anything that stands in the way of a person achieving their potential.
First, that’s a giant target, so I have to ask, what are you doing to accomplish that target and how do you measure if you’re actually making progress? Because really, just making everybody better. That’s a pretty big bogey to —
WILLIAMS: It is, but the thing we strive is to make one person better because that one person can make one person and that one person can make one person and before you know it, it makes a lot of people better.
Hopefully, it’s more than one person, but usually, we just strive for just that one to make that one person better and for me, I think that is super important to do.
RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little about some personal stuff. What athletes do you follow on social media? I noticed you’ve retweeted Kobe a couple of times, who else do you follow?
WILLIAMS: I follow Kobe. I follow — I don’t follow Caroline Wozniacki. I follow —
RITHOLTZ: Were you watching her today?
WILLIAMS: No, I was practicing myself, but I was happy she won.
RITHOLTZ: She didn’t just win. She posted it.
WILLIAMS: Yes, it was good. I was happy for her, but —
RITHOLTZ: You mentioned Venus. So, you have a number of Olympic golds, both for singles and doubles with your sister. How do the Olympics differ from regular open competition?
WILLIAMS: I love the Olympics. A tennis player who never grew up and thought about playing the Olympics. We thought about US Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open and that was it.
So, where there was an opportunity to play for the Olympics, you know, it was like, it was, “Should we?” And then you go and see all of these athletes from all of these different countries and this is their life.
Once every four years, this is their moment in time and they may never come back and you realize how amazing it is to hold a gold medal that someone else has as well, and the feel that they have worked for, for 20 years plus for just that one day. And as much as I love my grand slams trophies, which I would never give up, for me, my Olympic gold medals mean more to me.
RITHOLTZ: So, tell us something important that people don’t know about your background?
WILLIAMS: Well, I told you about the tennis story and the Gatorade and the clothing line?
RITHOLTZ: Is that the first time you —
WILLIAMS: The fashion lines, you guys probably didn’t know that one. Oh, I was — well, I am going back to, but I am studying — I am going back — I am studying pre-med at UMass.
RITHOLTZ: Okay. And what do you want to do with pre-med?
WILLIAMS: So, the whole point of me studying pre-med was because I like a holistic approach on Medicine and I wanted just to have that you know, in order to do the holistic background is to have the pre-med. But the whole purpose was if I ever had kids, that way, you know, I would be able to know what to do, what not to do and how to help them and how to not help them and so, then Olivia popped up and it was just like, “Oh.”
RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about books. You travel a lot. I have to think you’re reading all the time on planes, what have you. Tell us about some of your favorite books?
WILLIAMS: I love autobiographies. I read — Sheryl Sandberg wrote two books. She wrote, “Lean In” and then “Option B,” yes, which was — they are both great books. Also, I love to read fantasy novels like dragons and stuff like —
RITHOLTZ: Give us the title.
WILLIAMS: Well, there’s this book called, “Fable Haven” that I love. Obviously, I loved all the “Harry Potter” books.
I just recently read this book, “Sky Raiders” which is another Brandon Mull book. Okay, I am talking way too much about that. Clearly, that’s the majority of my reading.
RITHOLTZ: Tell us about a time you failed, it could be on the court or off.
RITHOLTZ: Failed and what did you learn from it?
WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I failed a lot. I failed so many times in fashion and I don’t know, we’re working on this new collection. It could fail too, but the thing about failing is it’s good because if you fail, you don’t — sometimes, you don’t know how to be better if you’re always doing right or you can just kind of stay on this plane, and you’re probably like, “Well, how come I am not here? How come I am always here?” But if you fail, then you fall and then you kind of can rise up higher than you ever would have if you didn’t fail.
So, every time I lose, which I absolutely abhor, but every single time I lose, I get ten times better and that’s failing. That’s what it does for you.
RITHOLTZ: What do you do to relax when you’re not on the court?
WILLIAMS: I watch a ton of Netflix. I am a total DC comic nerd.
RITHOLTZ: Oh really?
WILLIAMS: But I do still like Marvel. I love Marvel comics as well, but yes, so I just was watching — catching up with a show called the “Injustice,” but anyway.
RITHOLTZ: Do you — “Avengers,” “Justice League,” “Ironman” what do you like?
WILLIAMS: Yes —
WILLIAMS: Everything. I am really, I honestly think I was a superhero in a different life in another dimension, you know, like I was Miss Marvel or something.
RITHOLTZ: From here to earth to save us from bad tennis.
WILLIAMS: Yes, no, more or less like the alien invaders, yes.
RITHOLTZ: If a young person came to you and said they were thinking about being a professional athlete, what sort of advice would you give them?
WILLIAMS: Well, you have to work hard. You have to believe in yourself and you even when other people don’t believe in yourself and your negativity and now, with social, there’s so many things negative that you can read about yourself. You just have to be so positive and you have to love you and believe in you more than — even more than your parents probably would ever believe in you and so, that’s what it takes.
RITHOLTZ: And my last tennis question, what is it that you know about being a professional athlete today that you wish you knew 25 years ago?
WILLIAMS: How to move the ball around more? How to raise the ball? A little more technical stuff. I don’t know, that’s a good question. I feel like if I were just to take my losses the way I take them now, which is awful, but imagine what they were before?
So, if I could do that, I was going to —
RITHOLTZ: All right, so let’s go to our speed round before we open this up to the audience. This will be our lighting round. Ten questions in 60 seconds.
Favorite grand slam.
WILLIAMS: Australian Open.
RITHOLTZ: Most challenging opponent?
RITHOLTZ: Favorite sub-Reddit?
WILLIAMS: I am really not into Reddit.
RITHOLTZ: There’s a lot of like Dungeons and Dragons stuff that’s interesting —
WILLIAMS: Really? I don’t go on Reddit.
RITHOLTZ: Favorite non-tennis athlete?
WILLIAMS: Oh, non-tennis athlete —
RITHOLTZ: Non-tennis athlete.
WILLIAMS: That new ice skater, the young guy. He is awesome.
RITHOLTZ: What is your favorite city to eat in?
WILLIAMS: New Orleans, easy, vignette.
RITHOLTZ: Star Trek or Star Wars?
WILLIAMS: Star Trek.
RITHOLTZ: Other than your sister, who is your best friend on tour?
RITHOLTZ: That was really —
WILLIAMS: That was easy.
RITHOLTZ: That was a lame duck. What’s the number one item on your bucket list?
RITHOLTZ: Okay. Getting twenty-four. All-time favorite movie?
WILLIAMS: Impossible. Impossible because there’s too many good ones. You’ve got “Forrest Gump.” You’ve got “The Color Purple.” You have “Friday.” You have “Shawshank Redemption.” You know what? You have — I even like “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.” You know, impossible to get one.
RITHOLTZ: Old school.
WILLIAMS: Impossible for one.
RITHOLTZ: And what’s the favorite song that you sing to your daughter?
WILLIAMS: Definitely, “Moana.” Yes, the “Moana” songs. I don’t know if she likes the way I sing them, but I love singing them to her.
RITHOLTZ: So, that’s 10 questions in a minute. Let’s go to Slido. you mentioned you like technology. We use the technology here that people can ask questions, and they will come up on the screen and we could pick them. Let’s start running some of the questions from Slido, if we can.
So, the problem with technology is that often, it does not work.
WILLIAMS: No, it works. I enjoy technology and I love that lighting round, that was fun.
RITHOLTZ: I have another 50. We could do this for an hour.
RITHOLTZ: Just keep going. So, we want to do — do we want to do the Slido?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: All right, so bring them out.
WILLIAMS: Oh, good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have it on my phone this time. This is not me speaking. Although, it is true. “I am the father of daughters,” and I will let Barry finish the rest of the question.
RITHOLTZ: “I am the father of daughters you instilled a positive attitude. What suggestions do you have to instill positive self-image amongst daughters?”
WILLIAMS: Another great question and very important for me, I believe it starts young. I believe it starts two months, out of the womb. I really do. I was in a store, I won’t mention which one, and I saw the girls section and it said, “Mommy’s princess,” and “Daddy’s princess” and cute and you know, adorable and I was in the boy — and I went to the boys’ area and it said, “Curious. I am a thinker. I am smart. I can do anything.” And I was just like, “What?” You know, and I would have never noticed it before.
That’s why I said it starts — and this was like zero to three months, three to six months clothing, so it starts now to start instilling that positive, telling your daughter, “You can do anything. You can be the best.” It’s just the way we tell our sons.
And it’s something I have to do to because I have a daughter and I need to make sure that I am actively working on that.
RITHOLTZ: So, someone asked the question, “Mom brain is real.”
WILLIAMS: It is.
RITHOLTZ: “How do you do all that you do and how do you balance work and life?”
WILLIAMS: It is real. I write a lot of things down. Balancing work and life is easy for me because I made it you know, I work from — I have to be done at one at the latest usually, but I wanted to be here with you guys, so — but my every day life, I try to be done at one, that way I can spend the rest of the day with my daughter.
I could take phone calls, which is fine, but as long as I am at the house, I am good.
RITHOLTZ: You’ve achieved great success, you have great poise and grace, how do you remain so grounded amid the fame and fortune?
WILLIAMS: I have four older sisters, with three older sisters and I am the youngest of five. And my mom, if you ever met here, she doesn’t play, so if I am not humble, they’d give me a whack in the head.
RITHOLTZ: So, you’re a very competitive person. One day, you’re going to have to figure, around 45, you’ll retire from tennis, what’s going to replace the competition of tennis in your post-tennis life?
WILLIAMS: The competition, I want to have a really strong voice on those Boards. I definitely am competing to be on other Boards as well. So, that’s very competitive and of course, the fashion with this new company that we just started. That is going to be a lot of the competition to you know, outdo some of the other people that are doing their own lines as well.
RITHOLTZ: That is all the time we have. I want to say thank you to Serena Williams. This has been delightful.
WILLIAMS: Thank you so much.
RITHOLTZ: I’ll give it back to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Barry.
RITHOLTZ: Thank you so much.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Serena Williams.
1. Like I would stand a chance against her LOL ! ↩