NEW YORK – Serena Williams’ US Open adventure is over, capping a glittering 27-year career that defined a new era of tennis and inspired sponsors to take female athletes more seriously.
Williams lost to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York Friday, a day after she and her sister Venus exited the doubles competition after a first-round loss.
Williams is expected to retire after completing play in the tournament.
The Williams sisters helped usher in a new era of sponsorships for female athletes over their decorated careers.
Mr Jeff Kearney, global head of sports marketing for Gatorade, said Serena has made a permanent impact on marketing budgets everywhere, and her overwhelming success convinced the Pepsico division, which first partnered with Williams in 2009, to spend more on female athletes.
“Across brands and the different companies she works with, they’re investing more on the women’s game,” said Mr Kearney.
‘She’s going to transcend sport’
The sports icon has worked with a number of brands, beginning with a five-year Puma sponsorship at the beginning of her career that was valued at US$13 million (S$18 million).
A longstanding partnership with Nike followed in 2003, which has grown to include an in-house incubator for fashion designers. (The company has also dedicated the largest building on its Beaverton, Oregon, campus to her.) Delta Air Lines and JPMorgan Chase & Co have also been sponsors.