Photo: JD Lasica Follow
Venus Williams, four-time Olympic gold medal winner, owner of seven Grand Slam singles titles and tennis icon for all, has forever changed the way women’s tennis is played with her power game where serves set the tone.
She also forever changed the way women in tennis get paid, through her years-long pioneering campaign for equal pay in women’s tennis. Williams critiqued how Wimbledon, a top prize in tennis, paid women less than men for single’s titles. In an important op-ed, she said that unequal pay “devalues the principle of meritocracy and diminishes the years of hard work that women on the tour have put into becoming professional tennis players.” In 2007, her efforts paid off and the prize money for Wimbledon was finally made equal.
Now, she wants to help other women achieve business success in their own professions. On Wednesday, Williams announced that she is developing a reality TV competition series that is tentatively called “Deals in Heels.”
Deals in Heels
In each episode, five businesswomen will pitch Williams and her panel of experts about their ideas. The entrepreneurs with the top two ideas will be taken to an “executive suite” for the panel to dig deeper into their idea.
If the business plans are solid enough to continue, the selected businesswomen will get a month of mentorship to reach benchmarks. After that, they’ll get to re-pitch their idea. This is where the competition kicks in: only one of the entrepreneurs will get investment from the panel for their idea.
Williams will host and executive produce the series. Staness Jonekos, CEO of Eat Like a Woman, and Deborah Perry Piscone, Alley to the Valley CEO, are also co-executive producers.
“As an advocate for gender and pay equality, I’m thrilled to be working with 3 Ball Entertainment on this project that fosters and supports trailblazing women who are actively pursuing their professional aspirations,” Williams told Deadline.
So far it sounds similar to “Shark Tank” but with Venus Williams as a venture capitalist Shark. There is no network that’s attached to the series yet, but there’s no question many women will want to get advice from a champion like Williams.