Serena Williams is one of the most well-known athletes in the world, in fact, there’s literally no one like her. She’s been passionate about her love for tennis since she was a child, having her father coach and guide her—as well as her big sister Venus—since they were children.
According to Forbes (and unsurprisingly), Williams is one of the highest paid athletes in the world. She is also the only woman to crack the top 100 on that list, but Williams says she’s never once been motivated to play harder or better by the money.
While being interviewed for “Kneading Dough,” the personal-finance video series from LeBron James’ media company, Uninterpreted, Williams said, “I’ve never actually played for money —I just thought you would go out there and hold a trophy. Not once did I think about a check.”
“I just played for the love of the sport,” Williams told sports business manager Maverick Carter.
“I never touched [my first million-dollars] — I just put it in the bank. And I remember I went through the drive-thru to deposit it, and then they were like, ‘I think you need to come in for this,’ and so I ended up going inside: ‘Just put it on my account!’”
The 35-year-old tennis star credits her parents with teaching her about the value of money at a fairly young age. “I never, ever felt broke,” she told Carter in the video. “Looking back, I’m like, wow, we lived in a two-bedroom house with people. I don’t know how my parents were able to make me feel that way, but they did, and that was something really special.”
Williams says that when it came to money she never felt desperate or that she needed to go spend it all at once simply because she never wanted it. “It was a great way to grow up,” she says.
She also noted that although her father and long time coach was always hands-on, he never once demanded a fee or a cut of her earnings. Her father believes it was up to her to decide how she would spend her money. Williams said that being in control taught her to make better decisions in life.