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Serena Williams speaks at Target’s annual employee meeting in Minneapolis

September 12, 2018

Serena Williams can’t go anywhere unnoticed. And so it was when she showed up at Target Corp. headquarters on Wednesday during the company’s fall national meeting.

Williams, one of the greatest professional tennis players, spoke to about 3,000 employees at Orchestra Hall with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, as part of several scheduled events and speakers this week.

“We have a history of bringing in outside perspectives and people and personalities to speak with the Target team, to spark different conversations and different ways of thinking,” said spokesman Joshua Thomas.

Her appearance had been scheduled for some time, Thomas said.

Williams made headlines over the weekend at the U.S. Open championship, when she lost a point then a game after the umpire called penalties. After ultimately losing to Naomi Osaka, she called the umpire’s actions unfair, unleashing a debate across the sport.

Thomas declined to say what Williams spoke about. On social media, some attendees used the hashtag #inspiring to describe the couple’s talk.

Vanessa Kimball wrote on Instagram: “Thank you for always being you and always being an inspiration to us all.”

Williams doesn’t currently have a business relationship with Target. Speakers don’t necessarily have to have a formal relationship with the company, Thomas said.

Target flies in store managers and other employees from around the country each year for its annual meeting, using it as a pep rally of sorts to energize the ranks for the upcoming holiday season. Last September, more than 12,000 employees attended the event at Xcel Energy Center.

The event, which often draws celebrities and superstars in sports and entertainment, has often coincided with announcements of business partnerships. Last September, the Minneapolis-based retail chain announced an exclusive deal with “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Williams has said she shops Target’s aisles, particularly hair products, an area where the retailer has expanded its assortment to include more black-owned beauty brands and products.

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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