Tennis players serving up small — and big — businesses on the side


Tennis star Serena Williams.

As the gripping first week of the Australian Open unfolds in Melbourne Park, tennis pros from all over the world are lighting up our big screens.

But two years into a pandemic can mean a lot of downtime for the court stars, some of whom had found themselves grounded amid tough travel restrictions.

Several kept themselves busy, however, by launching or working on their side hustles — small and very, very big.

Naomi Osaka — co-owner of North Carolina Courage

She’s one of the biggest names in tennis, but Osaka recently became a co-owner of an American women’s soccer club in the National Women’s Soccer League too.

She made a splash when debuting the North Carolina Courage’s new kit at last year’s Australian Open — while fronting press before a training session.

Priscilla Hon — owner of Platform Six sneakers

Australian pro Priscilla Hon ranks 221st on the Women’s Tennis Association leaderboard, but the pandemic brought her game to a screeching halt.

She realised it was the “perfect time” to start a business with her best friend Sarah Butler, and the pair’s sneaker brand Platform Six was born.

Stefanos Tsitsipas — vlogger on YouTube

The rising star is also making a name for himself in the vlogging world. Tsitsipas documents his travels to 183,000 subscribers — everything from jet skiing in Cyprus to hanging with quokkas in Rottnest Island.

His videos often feature drone footage from cities all over the world, which landed him in some hot water when he arrived at Sydney International Airport a few years back.

“I had to delete [a drone video] for some reasons. I didn’t realise this footage from Sydney is not allowed, it’s not allowed to fly drones in the city,” he told reporters in 2019.

Danielle Collins — owner of Danielle Collins Jewellery

World number 30 Danielle Collins knows athletes have short-lived careers, “so it is important to have a career backup plan”, she says.

It’s with this in mind that Collins announced her jewellery line to some fanfare and even a luxury collaboration, though her business’s Instagram has gone quiet since 2019.

Rafael Nadal — founder of four sports centres

Rafa owns four eponymous sports centres — the main one is a sprawling 40,000 square metre complex in his hometown of Manacor, Mallorca (complete with 26 tennis courts, a sports residence, a Rafael Nadal museum, a health clinic, a fitness centre, a spa, and a cafe).

But he also opened up three more around the time of the pandemic: a facility in Al Zahra, Kuwait which opened in 2020, and facilities in Chalkidiki, Greece; and Cancún, Mexico which both opened in 2019.

Andrea Petkovic — writer and photographer

The six-time WTA title-holder’s essay for Racquet Magazine, ‘Tennis vs. Tennis’ was such a hit that it was recognised as some of the Best American Sports Writing of 2019.

Petkovic actually went on the road for the story, following American indie band Tennis and snapping professional photography along the way.

Serena Williams — fashion founder of Aneres, S by Serena

Both Serena and her sister Venus missed out on this year’s Australian Open, marking the first time since 1997 that neither one is competing in a grand slam.

But Serena’s fashion ventures off the court would be keeping her busy as well, or at least her team busy. She launched a sustainable clothing line called “S by Serena” in 2019, joining her other two fashion ventures — a designer apparel line called Aneres and a handbag and jewellery line called Signature Statement.

Venus Williams — designer at GhostBed

Venus has lived quite a few careers on the side: she’s CEO of an interior design firm in Florida, she released a fashion line called EleVen in 2007, and even became a part-owner of the Miami Dolphins with her sister Serena in 2009.

During the pandemic, however, Venus branched out into designing mattresses. She entered into a long term partnership with GhostBed to design performance mattresses, a venture which is touted to turn into a full home furnishings line.


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