Serena Williams shares the story of depositing her first million dollar check at a drive-thru ATM

Shannon Scovel
Serena Williams celebrates after winning the 2017 Australian Open in January. (Getty)

Today Serena Williams is known as a 23-time Grand Slam winner, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and the face of women’s tennis in the United States. But when Williams first started playing her sport, fame was new, unfamiliar and almost unexpected.

Money and endorsements started pouring in for Williams after her first Grand Slam title, and initially, the tennis star wasn’t sure what to do with the funds. In an interview with CEO Maverick Carter on the UNINTERRUPTED series “Kneading Dough,” Williams explained she never played for money or even thought about the monetary rewards that would come with her success. That is, until she tried to cash her first million dollar check.

“I went through the drive-thru to deposit my check, and they were like, ‘I think you need to come in for this,’ ” Williams said, laughing. “I ended up going inside, so I was just like, ‘Just put it in my account.’ I should have took a picture of it, but selfies didn’t exist back then.”

Williams’ experience with her first check, while comical, demonstrates how novel such payments were for an athlete who grew up living in a two-bedroom house with six other family members. The tennis star learned how to manage her own finances and save her money to ensure she would have cash when she needed them, she told Carter. 

Life for Williams will change dramatically with the birth of her child this fall, and Williams said that she hopes to give her kid the same kind of childhood that her parents gave her.  She said her parents encouraged her to make her own financial decisions from the time that she was a teenager, and she chose not to spend her money lavishly and instead save much of her early prize money. 

She will now switch her focus from tennis to motherhood for the time being, but her competitive drive hasn’t gone away.

In an interview with HuffPost UK, she said that she is now focusing on providing the best life possible for her child. She also told Carter that she wants to give her child everything she had, and, as the Huff Post interview reveals, she will do everything she can to achieve that goal.

“That’s my new ambition, just to be the best mum I can be,” Williams said.

Williams has already set a goal for her child too, and the goal has nothing to do with making a million dollars. Instead, she just wants her child to speak up for what is right.

“Any daughter of mine will have a voice,” she said in her interview with Carter.