Athletes We Admire for More Than Their Skills

Photo: Serena Williams

We often idolize professional athletes for their athletic prowess, but many of these sports icons are more than just their physical talents: They are savvy businesspeople, passionate about changing the world and helping the underrepresented. Below are some of the athletes we admire for more than their athletic decorations.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is a household name due to her talent on the tennis court. But Williams is not just a world-class athlete; she’s also a businesswoman and philanthropist in her own right. In 2014, she launched Serena Ventures, which supports women, Black, Latino, and other underrepresented founders. She also has her own line of size-inclusive clothing called S by Serena.

Allyson Felix

We can’t help but admire Allyson Felix, the most decorated female track-and-field athlete in Olympic history – and the most decorated American track-and-field athlete in Olympic history. She notoriously left Nike after becoming pregnant because they offered to pay her 70% less. Following her departure, Felix started her own shoe company, Saysh. And because she knows many women’s feet grow during pregnancy, her company has a policy that offers pregnant customers shoes in their new size.

Venus Williams

We can’t talk about Serena without mentioning her sister, Venus Williams, also a world-class tennis player. Despite her continued success, she has experienced professional and personal setbacks; nevertheless, she does not give up! Her business ventures include fashion brand Eleven, interior design firm V Starr, and the nutrition supplement Happy Viking.

Simone Biles

With seven Olympic medals (four gold) and many others she acquired through world championship competitions, Simone Biles is a role model for young girls and women. She also left Nike because her values no longer aligned with the company; following her departure, she joined forces with Athleta. Biles has also partnered with Cerebral, an app that helps make high-quality mental health care accessible and affordable.

Megan Rapinoe

We can’t get enough of Megan Rapinoe, who led the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team to victory in the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments and the 2012 London Olympics. She is a champion for equal pay for women, fighting against gender discrimination (she even testified before Congress on the subject). She has also done philanthropic work with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

What athletes do you admire for more than their skills? Share them with us in the comments below!

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