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Top 10 highest-paid female athletes of 2018

According to a BBC Sport’s research, there is an equal prize money reward for men and women in 35 out of 44 sports that provided the information, but counting in also the off-court earning opportunities, only female tennis seams to be at least in the same universe as men’s.

The first tournament to offer equal prize money to both men and women was the U.S. Open in 1973, and tennis remains the highest-paid female sport till today, with eight out of 10 top-paid athletes in 2018. Together all ten managed to collect $105 million on- and off-court in the 12-month period, until June 2018, which is less than a salary of each of the first three highest-paid athletes of 2018. This was also the first time no women made it to the top 100 since Forbes expanded their list to 50 names in 2010. Still, looking at the numbers, one can not really complain. 

Serena Williams – $18.1 million (Tennis)

Despite her 14-month pregnancy break, and therefore a salary of only $62,000 in winnings, Williams still made it to the very top the third straight year, thanks to her endorsements deals, appearances and business ventures, that include Serena clothing line.     

Her unmatched endorsement portfolio among women in sports consist of about dozen sponsorship deals, such as Nike, Gatorade, JPMorgan Chase, Intel, Audemars Piguet, Lincoln, Pepsi and Beats. She also ranks among the top 1% of all celebrities because of a 91% awareness rate and high scores for trust and aspiration, according to the Marketing Arm.

Caroline Wozniacki – $13 million (Tennis)

This 28-year-old Danish pro tennis player won her first ever Grand Slam singles title in January, at the Australian Open 2018, that was worth $3.1 million in prize money. In total, she managed to collect $7 million in prize money and $6 million off-court.

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What a week!! Title #30 !! 🏆😃

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The former top-ranked player, that won 30 WTA singles titles, is sponsored by Adidas, Rolex, Babolat, USANA, The Players’ Tribune and more. This year she also partnered with Lympo, a healthy lifestyle motivation app, and Ovvo Optics for her own sunglasses line.

Sloane Stephens – $11.2 million (Tennis)

Stephens returned from injury in the middle of 2017, and won her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open 2017 right after, becoming the first American woman beside Williams sisters to win a Grand Slam since 2002. The title made a huge bump in her off-court income, grasping a total of $5.5 million.

Now ranked no. 6 in the world by the WTA, Sloane inked new sponsorship deals with Nike, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, Colgate, Chocolate Milk and Biofreeze. She was also awarded WTA Comeback Player of the Year for her successful season.

Garbiñe Muguruza – $11 million (Tennis)

Muguruza managed to win her second Grand Slam at Wimbledon last year, which helped boost her earnings to $5.5 million on-court and same from her sponsorships.

The title also encouraged a new deal with Rolex and a multiyear, global marketing campaign with Evian. Other sponsors of this 25-year-old Spanish-Venezuelan pro player include Adidas, Maui Jim sunglasses, Babolat, Beats by Dre and Caser Seguros insurance.

Maria Sharapova – $10.5 million (Tennis)

The top-earning female athlete for 11 consecutive years ranked fifth this time, mostly due to her 16-month doping suspension. Her off-court income is more than 50% down with $9.5 million but is still the second highest among top earners.

This five times Grand Slam winner and Olympic medallist added a new sponsorship deal with UBS to her portfolio last year. The candy giant also expended her Sugarpova brand, that is available in 22 countries, with a sale that should hit $20 million next year. Other sponsorship giants of this Russian athlete and model include Porsche, Evian, Head and Nike, with whom she signed an 8-year deal worth $70 million in 2010, which is the most lucrative deal ever for a sportswoman. The same year she also launched her own tennis apparel line, the Nike Maria Sharapova Collection.

Venus Williams – $10.2 million (Tennis)

Alongside with her younger sister Serena, Venus is credited with escorting in a new era of athleticism and power on the women’s professional tennis tour. Over the last 18 months, she played her 1000th match, reached the final of WTA Finals, and managed to collect $4.2 million in prize money.

This 38-year-old extended her record as the all-time male or female leader with 80 Grand Slams played, at the 2018 US Open. Her awareness level of 81% in the U.S. ranks behind only her sister’s among female athletes in the U.S. This year Alcon tapped her to help launch a new eye lubricant, and she is a popular draw on the speaking circuit, making as much as $100,000 every time she is hired. She managed to win four Olympic gold medals and plans to play in the 2020 Olympics.

P.V. Sindhu – $8.5 million (Badminton)

23-year-old Indian badminton player burst on the scene at 2016 Summer Olympics, with a silver medal. She became the first Indian female athlete to win a silver, and one of the two Indian badminton players to ever win an Olympic medal.

P.V. Sindhu made $500,000 in prize money, the last out of listed athletes, but managed to bank $8 million thanks to her robust sponsorship roster, with Nokia, Panasonic, Gatorade, Bridgestone Reckitt Benckiser and eight other brands.

Simona Halep – $7.7 million (Tennis)

The current world No. 1 female tennis player made most of her money in the past 12 months on-court, with $6.2 million. She became the active player with the most consecutive weeks within the Top 10 after the 2017 Wimbledon Championships and managed to win her first major tournament at the 2018 French Open.

Simona’s deal with Adidas expired at the end of 2017, but she inked a multiyear pact with Nike right after she reached the Australian final this year. She is also endorsed by Hublot watches and is a brand ambassador for Mercedez-Benz Romania.

Danica Patrick – $7.5 million (Racing)

The most successful and famous female race car driver of all time stepped away from full-time racing after the 2017 NASCAR season, and officially retired after the Indy 500 in May 2018. She still managed to make the list thanks to her $3 million check from prize money, and $4.5 million from endorsements.

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Love that @godaddy green! 😍 #danicadouble #indy500

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This 36 years old American racer launched a clothing line last year, named Warrior by Danica Patrick, and is the author of the fitness book Pretty Intense. She is also represented by IMG talent agency and Excel Sports Management, and owns her own brand of wine called Somnium.

Angelique Kerber – $7 million (Tennis)

Three-time Grand Slam tennis champion Angelique Kerber, currently ranked world No. 2, managed to reach 2018 Australian Open semifinal, which regains the form she had lost the previous year.

This German tennis ace pocketed $4 million from endorsement deals she has with Adidas, Porsche, Generali, Rolex, SAP, Yonex and other. She is also a beauty ambassador for the US cosmetics company Bare Minerals, a global brand ambassador for Australian health snack brand Slim Secrets, and has been named ambassador for children’s charity UNICEF.

Sources: Statista, Forbes, Business Insider, Glamour, The Economic Times


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