Serena Williams’ relationship with Lincoln began long before the company paid her one dollar.
It began when she was 19. The icon chose and drove a Lincoln Navigator that she semi-famously referred to as “Ginger.” You might say it was her first baby girl before her five-year-old Olympia and her newborn Adira.
Besides Lincoln, the retired tennis star also endorses other products.
Almost 99% of Williams' total earnings are accrued from endorsements, according to EssentialSports.com. Partners include AbbVie, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Audemars Piguet, Block Inc, DirecTV, Gatorade, Gucci, Hanesbrands, Nike, Subway, Tonal and Wilson Sporting Goods.
Williams, who just gave birth earlier this week, agreed to answer some questions from MediaPost about her deals.
MediaPost: What is your criteria for deciding whether to endorse a product or brand?
Williams: Every brand partnership I have comes from a place of authenticity – it’s important I believe in the product or have a personal connection to it. My very first car was a Lincoln, so this partnership has always had a special place in my heart.
MediaPost: Has that changed since you became a mom?
Willliams: Definitely – I want to make sure I am setting a good example for my family and be proud to share those moments with my daughter.
MediaPost: How does Lincoln fit into your own personal brand image and how does it help make your life better?
Williams: My Lincoln Navigator brings so much comfort and serenity to my life. As stressful as driving can be, I’ve never felt more calm behind the wheel. There are so many features to the car that help make my life better but right now I am really loving the Recovery massage function.
MediaPost: Do you enjoy being in the Lincoln commercials? How much influence do you have on the creative concepts?
Williams: I absolutely love collaborating with Lincoln.
Every campaign we have done together has represented where I am at that point in my life in such a beautiful, cinematic way. My team and I always work closely with Lincoln throughout each step of the campaign creative, and I am really grateful that Lincoln is so open to that.
MediaPost: Anything else you'd like to add about Lincoln and the partnership?
Williams: I hope audiences love this new campaign “Letting Go” as much as I do. It’s fitting for me, I’ve had to learn to let go a lot recently. It’s a beautiful piece, for a beautiful car and I’m happy to finally share it with the world.