Tennis champion Serena Williams wants to be remembered as more than an iconic athlete. That’s why, outside the tennis court, she is also an active philanthropist, feminism advocate, fashion entrepreneur and, taking a page from her husband Alexis Ohanian, a savvy startup investor.
Her latest investment pick is Bumble, the women-focused dating app founded by ousted Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd. Williams has invested an undisclosed amount in Bumble, the company announced on Wednesday, and will join Bumble’s newly launched venture capital arm, the Bumble Fund, to provide early-stage funding to startups led by women of color and minority groups.
“In my life, and today more than ever, I’ve learned how impactful one woman’s voice can be when given a platform to speak and be heard,” Williams said in a statement on Wednesday. “I am passionate about building on this progress and opening doors for women of all backgrounds, especially women of color, to share their message and trust in their potential to accomplish great things.”
Williams already has some deep roots planted in the startup world. Her own investment house, Serena Ventures, has backed over 30 companies across multiple industries since 2014. She has often expressed her intention to invest more in women entrepreneurs. “If I can introduce these women with great companies to other people, I feel like, wow, we can make a little bit more noise,” she told Adweek last November. “There are so many African-American people who have great ideas [who are overlooked] because of the color of our skin.”
Launched in July 2018, the Bumble Fund has invested in nine companies to date, with an average check size of $25,000. Next month, Williams will sit next to Bumble CEO Wolfe Herd at the Bumble Fund’s pitch competition, where they plan to choose two to three promising companies and commit $50,000 to $100,000 to each winner. The competition is open to all female entrepreneurs in the U.S. Applications are open now through March 27.
Wolfe Herd founded Bumble in late 2014 shortly after leaving Tinder amid sexual harassment allegations against Tinder co-founder and her ex-boyfriend Justin Mateen. Over the past four years, Bumble has gathered 30 million users on its platform with an estimated valuation of $1 billion.