Tennis star Serena Williams has fought many battles on the courts during her legendary career—amassing over 39 Grand Slam titles and countless other accolades, but she’s about to embark on a journey of a different kind. A boardroom deep in the heart of Silicon Valley. Online poll-taking company SurveyMonkey announced her appointment this week, in an attempt to push their environment (and in turn the makeup of Silicon Valley) in a more diverse path. They certainly couldn’t have found a better representative.
In a statement to the Associate Press, Williams said that she feels like “diversity is something [she speaks] to, adding that “Change is always happening, change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me.” There are no open specifics of what her time as a board member will entail, or what she’s being compensated but this is certainly more of a statement by the company more than anything else. The tech industry has been under an enormous amount of pressure to display diversity among the hundreds of companies that reside in Silicon Valley—especially considering that their culture has been playing up this very fact. For example, of the 650 people that work at SurveyMonkey, only 14% of them are African American, Latino or people identifying as another race and only 27% of those employed there are women. To them, hiring Williams could be the start of an increased focus on diversity, something that has been a struggle for Silicon Valley for years. “My focus is to bring in change agents around the table who can open our eyes,” SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie said of the move.
Williams, who is connected to the company through her friend Sheryl Sandberg (who is also on the board of directors at SurveyMonkey), is already set to hit the ground running. Her interest in the tech industry has only grown more frequent due to her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohania, and now she’s ready to jump in “the deep end of the pool,” she said in a statement. “When I do something, I go all out.”