Williams seeks to drive diversity in tech sector through SurveyMonkey role

Tennis superstar Serena Williams will seek to drive diversity in the technology industry after being appointed to the board of directors at online survey platform SurveyMonkey.

The 23-time grand slam champion, who has a host of business interests off the court, has been appointed to the board alongside Brad Smith, chairman and chief executive of software company Intuit.

“I feel like diversity is something I speak to,” Williams told the Associated Press news agency. “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.”

Silicon Valley has been criticised for its lack of diversity, while Williams has been more exposed to the industry after becoming engaged to tech entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of online forum Reddit.

SurveyMonkey currently employs around 650 workers and only 27 per cent of technology jobs are filled by women, while 14 per cent of its total payroll consists of African-Americans, Latinos or people identifying themselves with at least two races.

“Serena is an activist, marketer, brand builder, and greatest athlete of our time,” Zander Lurie, chief executive of SurveyMonkey, said in a statement. “Serena’s voice on the board sends a strong message to our company, investors, and the industry.”

Williams, who is now 35, told the AP she is interested in becoming more involved in business opportunities in Silicon Valley, adding she is already exploring options in this area.

“I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters,” Williams said. “Now, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool. When I do something, I go all out.”