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Williams sisters back London-based Shares app in $40 million funding round

 (Getty Images for Lotte New York)
(Getty Images for Lotte New York)

Wimbledon doubles partners Serena and Venus Williams have teamed up away from the tennis court by investing together in a London fintech firm during a $40 million funding round.

The former Centre Court champions — who claimed the doubles title six times — have become shareholders in Soho-based investor app Shares, which launched in the UK in May and has since gained more than 150,000 users. They will also be brand ambassadors for the company but it is not known how much they have invested personally.

Shares CEO Benjamin Chemla told the Standard he sought the support of the Williams sisters to help “build a social trading platform and one that addresses a more diverse audience and a more feminine one.”

“My dream team from day one was the Williams sisters. We had this occasion to meet them in Paris [and] I felt lucky because almost right away they understood the vision,” he said.

“Not only do they become a shareholder but also the faces of the company. We wanted them both – they’ve probably never been together in the same campaign.”

Serena Williams said: “The first time I heard about Shares I was blown away by the vision. It is rare to find companies that are equally as passionate about opening up opportunities and breaking barriers to entry that have prevented traditional spaces like investment from being totally inclusive.”

If the support of the Williams sisters wasn’t enough, the funding round was led by billionaire Peter Theil founder of PayPal and early-stake investor in Facebook. Thiel is worth $4.3 billion according to Forbes.

The funds will be used to help fuel the firm’s European expansion, with a new office in Berlin recently opened.

Chemla said the Shares app continues to grow despite plunging stock prices and mounting recession fears. The Nasdaq-100 technology sector index has fallen 36% since the start of the year.

“Most of our users are quite new to investing so they haven’t lost money – 60% are below 25 years old,” Chemla said.

“For them it’s actually the perfect occasion to begin investing – our target audience is quite excited about this volatility and see a lot of opportunity.