Serena Ventures, the technology investment firm created by US tennis icon Serena Williams, has made a substantial investment into OpenSponsorship, a digital endorsement deals marketplace, after launching an early-stage venture capital fund last month.

The investment is worth upwards of $1 million, with other financial details not being disclosed at this time. 

OpenSponsorship claims to have facilitated over 10,000 deals for around 400 brands in 2021 and currently covers 12,000 athletes in its marketplace.

Williams joins other OpenSponsorship investors including David Blitzer (co-owner of ice hockey’s New Jersey Devils, English soccer team Crystal Palace, and the Philadelphia 76ers basketball NBA franchise) and Alex Killorn, of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

So far, the marketplace claims to have secured around $5 million in capital funding, its founder and chief executive Ishveen Jolly has said.

Williams has now said: “Brand sponsorship is vital to an athlete’s career and OpenSponsorship is giving them more control and ownership over that process. But this is also something that businesses will benefit from. I love the fact that this platform puts supporting athletes at the core of its business.”

OpenSponsorship has said it will use the funding to continue its athlete representation expansion worldwide, with a particular emphasis on expanding its tech platform in the UK.

Williams is one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world. In 2021, her endorsement deals amounted to $34 million in earnings.