Endorsement deal with Nike confirmed

Serena Williams can start putting a swoosh on the tennis outfits
she designs.
Williams agreed to terms on a sponsorship contract with Nike, a
deal that could be worth close to $40 million over five years, a
tennis source told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The agreement has an option for a three-year extension,
according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The
contract includes royalties and performance bonuses for winning
Grand Slam tournaments and reaching No. 1 in the rankings.

ESPN.com reported on Monday that if the contract is extended to eight years instead of five, the potential earnings could be $55 million should Williams hit all of her performance incentives. That would make it the single largest endorsement deal signed by a female athlete.

Nike announced it reached a multiyear deal with Williams but did
not reveal the length or financial terms. Her lawyer did not return
a phone message for comment.
"Serena Williams is more than a world-class tennis player -- she
is a world-class athlete,'' Nike marketing director Riccardo
Colombini said. "Working with Serena will give Nike valuable
Williams, 21, has won five of the last seven Grand Slam
tournaments, beating older sister Venus in the final each time.
She held the No. 1 ranking for a year until being sidelined
because of knee surgery on Aug. 1. Williams pulled out of every
tournament the rest of the year and finished 2003 at No. 3.
She expects to return to action by the Australian Open.
Venus Williams has a deal with Reebok that could be worth up to
$40 million over five years. She signed that in December 2000 after
winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open for the first time.
Serena Williams' contract with Puma expired early this year.
Nike figures to benefit from non-tennis interests that have made
her more visible, including clothing designs and acting. She drew a
lot of attention for the black "cat suit'' and pink zippered
outfit she wore while winning the 2002 U.S. Open.
With help from the William Morris agency, she landed roles in a
movie called "Beauty Shop'' and the Showtime drama "Street
A 2002 survey of the public relations industry deemed Williams
and Tiger Woods the most attractive spokespersons among athletes.
"We'll work very closely with Serena, not only as a tennis
player and an athlete, but also as an athlete to develop products
that will support her tennis performance and help grow the game,''
Nike spokesman Dave Mingey said.
"We're all very excited about the opportunity to see her input
in the development of products, both for on the court and off.''