Serena Williams’ pregnancy will ‘humanize’ her & make her more marketable?


Serena Williams’ publicist ended up confirming Serena’s pregnancy. She said: “I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall.” Serena’s publicist also said that obviously, Serena would be missing the rest of the 2017 season, which… duh. I mean, I have no doubt that Serena could rack up some significant match wins while seven months pregnant, but after she won the Australian Open while preg, she literally has nothing else to prove. Interestingly enough, Serena’s publicist also insisted that Serena WILL return to the tour next year. Which has created a bit of stir. I said yesterday that I doubted that Serena would defend her title in Australia next year, but that we might want to pencil in Wimbledon 2018 as Serena’s potential comeback. I still feel that way. I think Serena might play next year’s Indian Wells and Miami, then maybe play one or two clay tournaments, maybe make it to the QFs of the French, then it will be on to Wimbledon. That’s how I see it play out.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Serena will feel differently when the baby is here. But considering her historic achievements, from winning more Slams over the age of 30, to her consecutive-week #1 ranking, to the fact that she’s has the most Slam singles titles in the Open Era, why not believe that Serena can come back after a baby, at the age of 36? Plus, there’s no small matter of the money. When Maria Sharapova admitted to testing positive for banned substances last year, Sharapova lost millions of dollars as sponsors suspended (mostly temporarily suspended) their contracts with her. Which made Serena the highest-paid female athlete in the world. I worried that some of Serena’s sponsors, like Nike, would not be too happy about the pregnancy. But according to sponsorship experts, it’s more likely that Serena’s pregnancy will mean even more $$$ in the years to come.

A pregnant Serena Williams makes the tennis superstar even more attractive to corporate sponsors, allowing her to extend her reach into maternity wear and motherhood products, sponsorship industry executives said. Williams, 35, is already known around the world for her dominance of women’s tennis, but pregnancy would make her even more likable in the eyes of the wider public, experts in the sponsorship industry said.

“You take an iconic name who’s now a brand and you add pregnancy to it, you get a happy story,” said Gary Fechter, an attorney at McCarter & English who has represented companies in sponsorship deals. “This just makes her even more valuable.”

With almost $29 million in salary and sponsorship earnings, including from Nike nke and PepsiCo pep , Williams ranked as the top paid female athlete in the world last year on a list compiled by Forbes magazine. But lower prize money in tennis left her 40th in the overall standings. However, her earnings from sponsorship deals alone, at $20 million, would rank her far higher on the Forbes list-tied at 20th with fellow tennis player Maria Sharapova.

Williams could add to her earnings by appealing to new audiences, the experts said. Existing sponsors could tell new stories with an expecting superstar athlete, and new corporate sponsors might sign up with the mom-to-be as well.

“This just adds another dimension to Serena the person,” said Jim Andrews, senior vice president with IEG, a WPP unit that tracks sponsorship spending. Lawyer Fechter said there has not been an athlete of Williams’ prominence who stepped away while still dominant, but he pointed out that pregnancy only made non-sports celebrity Kim Kardashian more popular.

“This will enhance her likeability and certainly her marketability,” Fechter said of Williams.

Industry officials agreed no existing sponsor would ever drop Williams as a spokeswoman because she remains at the top of her sport and any move by a company to distance itself from a pregnant woman would likely be heavily panned by the public. In addition to Nike and Pepsi, Williams’ roster of sponsors includes Wilson Sporting Goods, J.P. Morgan Chase jpm , Apple’s headphone company Beats Electronics, International Business Machines ibm and German automaker BMW’s Mini brand, according to IEG. Existing clients could tap into new markets with a pregnant superstar athlete, industry experts said. Williams could even expand her clothing line marketed on HSN Inc into maternity wear.

“There are a lot of different products and a lot of different brands that will feature families, motherhood, young kids and here’s somebody who would be potentially a great working mom if she continues her career,” said Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment, which matches celebrities with corporate sponsors.

[From Yahoo Finance]

That’s a nice way of looking at it, I guess. I didn’t even think of the fact that yeah, of course Nike will look terrible if they drop Serena during her pregnancy. And of course pregnancy is a big business nowadays – that’s why I call it The Motherhood Industrial Complex. Having babies and talking about those babies is an actual career strategy now. Serena could get a piece of that. Now, all that being said… Serena does NOT have a likeability problem. To act like this pregnancy suddenly “humanizes” her is absurd. You know what humanizes her? The fact that for 20 f–king years, she’s had to deal with racists and misogynists devaluing her and her talent and her work and yet she kept on succeeding.

Photos courtesy of WENN, PCN, Getty.

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28 Responses to “Serena Williams’ pregnancy will ‘humanize’ her & make her more marketable?”

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  1. OhDear says:

    That is all sorts of messed up. I get the “branching out into new markets” part (maternity clothes, kid stuff). But it’s not enough for her to be the GOAT, she becomes “more likable” because she’ll have a child?

  2. Megan says:

    Since I consider Serena to be a goddess, I guess being pregnant makes her feel more mortal … nah, she is a goddess and the GOAT.

  3. I'mScaredAsHell says:

    Even when they’re supposedly complimenting Serene, the racist shade comes through.

    She is the GOAT and haters are always gonna hate.

    • imqrious2 says:

      Apparently, it’s out there already. This was on my news app:

      “Ilie Nastase, a former men’s world No. 1, reportedly said the following about Williams, who is pregnant with her first child: “Let’s see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?” ”

      I just don’t have the words…

  4. Wal says:

    All hail Queen Serena!! That’s all. Wishing her a healthy pregnancy.

  5. detritus says:

    Her makeup in the thumbnail is perfection.

  6. Lucy2 says:

    I know Serena has faced a lot of awful stuff most other athletes don’t have to, but this particular article seems ok, and I don’t see where they said anything about “humanizing” her, just that she’s already the top and this makes her even more marketable. Maybe I am misreading it? Honest question, it’s early and I’ve had a shit day so far, so if I am missing subtext I genuinely would like to know.

  7. Luca76 says:

    The only likability problem I ever had with Serena was her comments about the Steubenville rape victim . That’s a big one for me. But I do admire her athletic achievements.

    • Katie says:

      For those who’ve forgotten:

      “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

  8. QQ says:

    Humanizes her…… this is exactly what i Stay telling you all… Humanizes Her

    The Humanity of some people STAY having getting proved/questioned and so forth, and is so casual that this article can be posited in such a way, behold a woman that goes above beyond, backwards on her head, since childhood, growing before our very eyes but her Humanity gets to be seen now.. how fuck!ng Novel

    • SilverUnicorn says:

      She’s the best. It’s unbelievable what they are printing about her.

      She will be super happy about the baby but how it makes her more human?
      It goes back to that article yesterday, the implication that women without babies are incomplete, missing something.
      She is the GOAT, what is she actually ‘missing’? Doh!

  9. thaisajs says:

    She seemed pretty human to me before she got pregnant. A pretty bad-a** human.

    I could see how her marketing team sees even more opportunity with her pregnancy, cause she’ll be doing post-birth workouts and such. (Unlike me, who just wore yoga pants a lot.)

  10. jinni says:

    Translation, now that she is carrying a half-white child she will be considered more palatable to be sold to the white mainstream. Before, despite being consistently amazing at what she does, she was considered too muscular and too dark (which equals threatening) to get the kind of sponsorship/ recognition her white and infinitely less talented “peers” ( in quotations because seriously none of them are on her level to truly be called peers) were/are getting.

  11. adastraperaspera says:

    “Serena Williams’ pregnancy will monetize her” is what the merchants are really saying.

    BTW, I am 100% positive Serena does not care at all what they think.

  12. whatever says:

    The same could also apply to Victoria Azarenka. She has never been the most likeable person or player but her pregnancy and absence have made people miss her. I see it on social media the most. I think motherhood has made her ‘softer’ (if thats the right word) and humanised her a bit too and that is not a bad thing. I should also add that Azarenka hasn’t lost any sponsors either due to her pregnancy (including Nike). I think they will both benefit financially and otherwise due to becoming mothers, whether they will be rivals when shilling baby product etc.. remains to be seen.

  13. Dumbledork says:

    That Steubenville quote is just disgusting. F her. Congrats on a healthy pregnancy, congrats on her athletic achievements, but god help her daughter doesn’t dare to take a drink someday,

  14. Clara says:

    News of her pregnancy makes me happy. I wish her and her family healthy happy times.

    • North of Boston says:

      Yeah, that bugged me too.

      Do other top athletes also need to be “humanized” or made more likable by becoming parents in order for them to be more marketable? Tom Brady? Was anyone clamoring for him to be “humanized” by having children vs just seeing him as a top athlete? Eli Manning? Roger Federer? Nope.

      But a woman who is one of the most dominant players in her sport, who is a supreme athlete, is somehow less than human until she bears a child, according to these soulless creatures. Now that she’s pregnant, they consider her “humanized” and more marketable. Yeah, yeah, I know, these are marketing executives we’re talking about, so I shouldn’t expect them to be beacons of the best of humanity, but do these people even hear what they are saying. Awful!

      Congratulations and best wishes to her and her family, though.

    • Lis says:

      I know … who wrote this sh*t??
      I don’t have kids so I must need humanizing too.
      Please. (eyeroll)