The U.S. opening begins at the end of the month, and dozens of female tennis professionals have their endorsements lined up for the season. Forbes.com recently put together a list of the world’s highest paid female athletes, and as you might expect tennis starts top the list. I have included a section of the article below, but you can find the full text here.
Serena Williams may be the No. 1-ranked player, but she can not match the earnings power of Maria Sharapova. Thanks to a bevy of endorsements with blue chip companies like Nike, Sony Ericsson and Tiffany, Sharapova pulled in $24.5 million over the past year, making her the highest-paid female athlete in the world. She earned $1 million from prize money, with the rest derived from endorsements and appearance fees.
Sharapova's breakthrough came in 2004, when she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. Her agents at IMG quickly capitalized on her success and good looks by inking deals with Canon Colgate-Palmolive and Motorola.
Sharapova has struggled in recent years on the court with injuries, but has bounced back in 2010 with two tourney wins. She also signed a massive eight-year deal with Nike at the beginning of the year that could be worth as much as $70 million. The deal provides royalties from her tennis line, as well as a line of bags and shoes through Nike subsidiary Cole Haan.
Our income figures cover June 2009 through June 2010 and include prize money, endorsements, appearance fees and exhibitions. Tennis players dominate the top 10, making up half the list, while golfers nab three spots. Our list of the highest-paid athletes in the world (male or female) included 30% born outside the U.S. This list of highest-paid women is even more international, with women from six different countries making the cut.