The Highest-Paid Female Athletes Score A Record $167 Million

The Highest-Paid Female Athletes Score A Record $167 Million

1/17/2022 9:45:00 AM

The Highest-Paid Female Athletes Score A Record $167 Million

Naomi Osaka leads the top ten with $57 million, but the presence of a gymnast and a WNBA player shows sponsors are starting to cast a wider net.

On-The-Field Earnings: $2.3 millionPhoto: Kelly Defina/Getty ImagesWere it not for Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams would claim the earnings record for a female athlete with her $45.9 million from 2021. The 40-year-old played in only six WTA Tour tournaments and plummeted to 41st in the women’s rankings—her worst mark since she returned to tennis in 2018 after the birth of her daughter—but she remains a big draw for advertisers, partnering with brands like Nike, Gatorade and, most recently, DirecTV. She was an executive producer on the 2021 film

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recently retired soccer legend Carli Lloyd , who joined the U.S. national team in 2005 alongside women who had fought for basics like guaranteed compensation and health benefits. “Whether it’s a [social media] post players are making to get paid or whether they’re signing endorsement deals, it’s a good space to come into, and it obviously occurred because of all the former players that had come prior.” Here are the ten highest-paid female athletes from 2021. On-The-Field Earnings: $2.3 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $55 million Nearly all of Naomi Osaka’s $57.3 million in pretax earnings comes from an endorsement portfolio that has added more than ten brand partners over the last year and a half, including Louis Vuitton, Sweetgreen and Tag Heuer. In recent months, the Japanese-born 24-year-old has picked up equity stakes in VR startup StatusPRO and plant-based-chicken maker Daring Foods, released a collection of NFTs on Tom Brady’s Autograph platform and launched a skincare line called Kinlò. The tennis ace had a bit of a tougher time on the court in 2021, falling to 13th in the women’s rankings and crashing out of the Tokyo Olympics in the third round, but she did capture her fourth Grand Slam title, at the Australian Open in February. An abdominal injury will keep her from defending her crown at this year’s tournament in Melbourne, set to begin on Monday. Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images On-The-Field Earnings: $0.9 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $45 million Were it not for Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams would claim the earnings record for a female athlete with her $45.9 million from 2021. The 40-year-old played in only six WTA Tour tournaments and plummeted to 41st in the women’s rankings—her worst mark since she returned to tennis in 2018 after the birth of her daughter—but she remains a big draw for advertisers, partnering with brands like Nike, Gatorade and, most recently, DirecTV. She was an executive producer on the 2021 film King Richard , which centered on her father, and she has investments in more than 60 startups through her firm Serena Ventures. Williams said last month that she would miss the Australian Open because “I am not where I need to be physically to compete.” Photo: Andy Brownbill/Associated Press On-The-Field Earnings: $0.3 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $11 million Venus Williams is a rare sight on the WTA Tour these days, playing only nine tournaments, and winning only three matches, in 2021. That would destroy most players’ earnings potential: In the tennis world, a drop in the rankings or a missed tournament typically triggers a reduction in deals with sponsors hoping to see their logos on television. But Williams’ partnerships in recent years have focused more on her celebrity than her tennis, and the 41-year-old has a lucrative side hustle making appearances and giving keynote speeches. She has her own apparel brand, EleVen, which has , and like her sister Serena, she was an executive producer on the film King Richard . Also like her sister, she will skip this year’s Australian Open—the first time neither of them will appear at the Melbourne tournament since 1997. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images On-The-Field Earnings: $0.1 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $10 million The Tokyo Olympics did not go as Simone Biles planned: She withdrew from five events before returning to win bronze on the balance beam. Still, the 24-year-old had already secured her status as a gymnastics legend, and her story of resilience seemed to resonate with brands. She partnered with Autograph to release NFTs starting in August and joined mental-health startup Cerebral as “chief impact officer” in October. She was also the face of a cross-country post-Olympics gymnastics tour, the Gold Over America Tour, with its initials spelling GOAT—a nod to her reputation as the sport’s greatest of all-time. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images On-The-Field Earnings: $2.8 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $6 million Even counting her runner-up finish at the 2020 Australian Open, Garbiñe Muguruza’s last couple of seasons felt somewhat disappointing after a dominant run from 2015 to 2017. She rediscovered her form in 2021, however, winning three tournaments and climbing to No. 3 in the women’s tennis rankings to trigger significant sponsor bonuses. The 28-year-old Spaniard also added Jaguar and Nivea to her valuable set of endorsements with brands including Adidas and Babolat. Photo: Andy Wong/Associated Press On-The-Field Earnings: $3.5 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $4 million After nearly two straight years at No. 1, Jin Young Ko lost the top spot in the women’s golf rankings to Nelly Korda, but she picked up a pretty good consolation prize with a win in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in November, claiming $1.5 million and LPGA Player of the Year honors. Although she plays without an equipment deal, favoring a mixed set of clubs of different brands, the 26-year-old can count on valuable sponsorships from companies from her native South Korea, a golf-crazy country. Her partners include LG Electronics, Korean Air, Jeju SamDaSoo mineral water and Rejuran skincare products. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images On-The-Field Earnings: $0.2 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $7 million P.V. Sindhu may be virtually unknown in the U.S., but the 26-year-old badminton champion is hugely popular in India and has appeared in this list’s top ten once before, in 2018 . She followed her silver-medal-winning performance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with a bronze last year in Tokyo, becoming the first Indian woman with two Olympic medals. She has added four sponsors since returning home, including ed-tech giant Byju’s and used-car platform Spinny, on top of partners like Li-Ning sportswear and India’s Bank of Baroda. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images On-The-Field Earnings: $3.9 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $3 million No women’s tennis player made more on the court in 2021 than Ashleigh Barty, the world’s top-ranked player and the reigning Wimbledon champion, and she is the betting favorite to win this month’s Australian Open on her home soil. But the 25-year-old, who recently signed a sponsorship deal with Marriott Bonvoy, served up a reminder of the pay disparities that still exist in some areas of the sport when she won the Western & Southern Open outside Cincinnati in August. She took home $255,220 for the victory, whereas the men’s champion at the same tournament, Alexander Zverev, collected $654,815. Photo: Michael Errey/AFP/Getty Images On-The-Field Earnings: $2.4 million Off-The-Field Earnings: $3.5 million Nelly Korda may have finished a spot behind Jin Young Ko on the LPGA prize-money list and in the Player of the Year race, but her year was perhaps even more impressive as she captured her first major title at the Women’s PGA Championship in June, won Olympic gold in August and ended 2021 as the top-ranked women’s golfer. The 23-year-old, recently named to