Penguin Random House has signed a two-book deal with former tennis champion and cultural icon Serena Williams and is hoping to attract the same audience that turned Michelle Obama into a bestseller with Becoming.
The first book is described as an intimate memoir and will include details of the attacks she has faced in a predominantly white and male dominated sport. The second book will centre on her philanthropic work, her time as an investment unicorn at Serena Ventures and her experience as an advocate which has led her to offer her rules for living.
Ben Brusey, publishing director at Century, and Venetia Butterfield, MD at Cornerstone, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Matilda Forbes Watson and Suzanne Gluck at WME. North American rights were acquired by PRH vice-president and executive editor Jamia Wilson and publisher Andy Ward. Both books will be edited by Wilson with global publishing rights sold in 11 territories and counting.
PRH says the memoir will offer a full and open account of her remarkable life, from her childhood in Compton, California, learning to play with her mother and father, to her academy years in West Palm Beach and her decision to turn professional at age 14, to her rise and reign as the top womens tennis player in the world and one of the most accomplished athletes in history. Williams won 39 major tennis titles and is a four-times Olympic gold medal winner.
The book will also be a celebration of body diversity and bring awareness to maternal health disparities. Williams said: For so long, all I was focused on was winning, and I never sat down to look back and reflect on my life and career. Over the last year Ive really enjoyed taking the time with my growing family to celebrate my accomplishments and explore my other passions. I couldnt be at a more perfect place to be able to take-on such a personal, intimate project, and theres no one I would rather do it with than the team at Random House.”
Brusey said: “At Century we are honoured to be publishing these deeply personal and inspiring books by Serena Williams who is a true cultural icon and one of the greatest athletes of all time. Her upbringing was the subject of an Oscar-winning movie. But the full story of her journey off the court, told intimately here for the first time, is even more remarkable.
Full of the energy, passion and commitment Ms Williams has demonstrated throughout her life, these empowering books will present to readers a profound blueprint of how to conquer nearly insurmountable challenges, and how to thrive.
In the US, Sanyu Dillon, Random House group president, added: The story of Serenas life is one of deep commitment, fierce talent, unabating passion and love. The team and I are honoured to collaborate with Serena on her literary endeavours, and we cant wait to publish what will no doubt be landmark books of inspiration from a truly singular woman, athlete, mother, and business leader.
The books are due to be published in 2024 and rights have already been sold in 11 territories.