Although Serena Williams is one of the highest-paid (and greatest) athletes in the world, she never got into tennis for the money. And so, when she received her first $1 million paycheck, she simply treated it like any other check the rest of us would get for work — and attempted (unsuccessfully) to deposit it at her bank’s drive-through.
In an interview with the personal-finance video series Kneading Dough, produced by LeBron James’s media company, Williams revealed that she “never touched” the money from her first $1 million check. “I just put it in the bank and I just remember I went through the drive-through to deposit my check,” Williams said. “They were like, ‘I think you need to come in for this.’ So I ended up going inside.”
Williams went on to say that she never took a picture of the check — “selfies didn’t exist back then,” she noted — and now wished that she had done so to commemorate the moment. But at the end of the day, tennis has never been about making bank for Williams. “I’ve actually never played for money. I thought you would just go out there and you would hold a trophy,” Williams said. “Not once did I think about a check.”
The mom-to-be added that when she first turned pro, it was at a time when the athletes actually had to “pick up” their checks. “At the end of the year, the tournament directors would literally hand me the check because I would never go get it. I just played for the love of the sport,” she said.