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Serena Williams Invests in Startup Fighting Maternal Mortality: The Broadsheet

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! President Trump attacks four freshman congresswomen, Norah O’Donnell is set to take over CBS Evening News tonight, and Serena Williams puts her money behind a startup fighting maternal mortality. Have a mindful Monday. 


– SV and Mahmee. After Serena Williams gave birth to her daughter in 2018, she shared the life-threatening complications she experienced—and how, as a black woman, she was three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes.

Now Williams has invested in Mahmee, a startup working to end the maternal mortality crisis affecting black women in the United States. “I am incredibly excited to invest and partner with Mahmee, a company that personifies my firm’s investment philosophy,” Williams said in a statement. “Given the bleak data surrounding maternal death and injury rates, I believe that it is absolutely critical right now to invest in solutions that help protect the lives of moms and babies.”

Was Williams influenced by her own experience? (She wasn’t available for further comment—a bit busy with Wimbledon, where, by the way, Simona Halep defeated the tennis icon in the title match on Saturday. Williams also spoke up about her activism this weekend, saying, “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave.”)

Mahmee CEO Melissa Hanna couldn’t speculate on what drew Williams to the startup, one of more than 30 investments Williams has now made through her firm Serena Ventures. Mahmee provides a tech platform where women can track their health and the health of their infants, ask questions they feel don’t rise to the level of contacting their doctor, and find supplemental health professionals like lactation consultants. To reach the women most affected by the maternal mortality crisis, the company partners with health systems rather than consumers; a woman whose health coverage comes from Medicaid can use Mahmee if her hospital offers it. 

Hanna doesn’t think her startup will fix the maternal mortality crisis entirely; rather, she sees it as a component to a broader solution. For national-scale action, we’ve got plans from senators and presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. 

But the CEO is thrilled to have Serena in her court. “It was a really important moment for our team,” Hanna says, “to have support from someone like her.” Fortune 

Emma Hinchliffe


– Birtherism 2.0. President Trump yesterday tweeted that four progressive congresswomen—AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib—should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The racist tweets followed days of infighting between the freshmen and House leadership. Three of the four congresswomen were born in the United States; Omar has been a citizen since she was a teenager. “The country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” AOC wrote on Twitter. Washington Post 

– Tune in. Norah O’Donnell is set to take over the anchor chair at CBS Evening News tonight, the second woman in the job and part of Susan Zirinksy’s reshaping of the network’s news operation. O’Donnell plans to harken back to her predecessor Walter Cronkite, with coverage mirroring his as the U.S. marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the Wall Street Journal reports. And a fun fact from O’Donnell’s interview in Glamour: as a child, she used to call up her friends’ houses and pretend to be Barbara Walters asking for an interview. 

– Protection or education? Kathy Kraninger is head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But the Trump administration’s version of the bureau under her watch is more about consumer financial literacy and education than serving as a watchdog for financial institutions. Wall Street Journal 

– Big little problem. Big Little Lies stars five powerful women and is produced by two of them—but its female director Andrea Arnold was still subject to disrespectful treatment by the men behind the scenes at HBO. Indiewire 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Netflix hired BBC Studios’ Jackie Lee-Joe as CMO. Chanel hired Fiona Pargeter as its first head of diversity and inclusion. State Bank of India managing director Anshula Kant was named managing director and chief financial officer of the World Bank


– Resignation, arrest. Alexander Acosta resigned as labor secretary on Friday as scrutiny mounted over the 2008 plea deal he made with Jeffrey Epstein while Acosta was U.S. attorney in Miami. Also late last week, R. Kelly was arrested on federal sex crimes charges.  

– Untreatable UTIs. Urinary tract infections have been easily cured with antibiotics for years. But the infections are becoming increasingly resistant to the medication, leading to more hospitalizations, graver illnesses and prolonged discomfort—mostly for women. New York Times

– Amazonian in Turkey. Hanzade Dogan-Boyner is the founder of Turkey’s largest e-commerce platform, Hepsiburada. She quit the family business—a media empire—to found the company, now known as Turkey’s Amazon, with $786 million in annual revenues in 2018. It was almost acquired by the real Amazon last year, but now it’s competing with the company instead. Forbes 

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[Humor] Look, son, maybe men just aren’t built to play soccer The New Yorker


I usually only go away from the kids when I’m working, but that in itself is a vacation because it’s exploring a different facet of myself.

-Liv Tyler in a New York Times profile