Williams overtakes Sharapova in money list

Despite losing two Grand Slam finals this year - including last Saturday's French Open final to Garbine Muguruza - Serena Williams (above) has had a dominant run in the past 12 months, which pushed her earnings past Maria Sharapova to US$28.9 million
Despite losing two Grand Slam finals this year - including last Saturday's French Open final to Garbine Muguruza - Serena Williams (above) has had a dominant run in the past 12 months, which pushed her earnings past Maria Sharapova to US$28.9 million.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Forbes ranks her as highest-paid female athlete after she won three Majors last year

LOS ANGELES • Two days after her shock loss to Garbine Muguruza in the French Open final, Serena Williams scored a victory - albeit of a different kind - on Monday.

Forbes Magazine reported that the women's tennis world No. 1 has overtaken suspended rival Maria Sharapova as the world's highest-paid sportswoman.

Williams earned US$28.9 million (S$39.1 million) over the past 12 months, the financial magazine reported in an article posted on its website.

Russian tennis star Sharapova, who had held the title for the past 11 years, netted US$21.9 million over the same period, a drop of almost US$8 million from her earnings the previous year.

Forbes also reported that the 34-year-old Williams, who has dominated her sport for a decade and a half and has won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, earned career prize money of US$77.6 million, which is more than twice as much as any other female athlete.

Her continuing success has made the American a compelling figure for marketeers.


  • 1 Serena Williams (tennis) US$28.9 million (S$39.1 million)

    2 Maria Sharapova (tennis) US$21.9 million

    3 Ronda Rousey (mixed martial arts) US$14 million

    4 Danica Patrick (motor racing) US$13.9 million

    5 Agnieszka Radwanska (tennis) US$10.2 million

She ranks second among active athletes, behind only National Basketball Association star LeBron James, on Repucom's CelebrityDBI, which tracks consumer perceptions of celebrities based on awareness, as well as seven attributes.

Her 89 per cent awareness level ranks in the top 3 per cent of the nearly 4,000 celebrities Repucom follows, and she scores highly on the aspiration and influence attributes in particular.

"There are a number of factors we take into consideration when we evaluate potential partnerships. Serena's excellence on court, her work in the community and her following in pop culture are a few things that set her apart and are complementary to our brand," said Frank Nakano, head of sports and entertainment for JPMorgan Chase.

The bank added a new deal with Williams last year to be one of the faces of its Mastery campaign, which highlights its digital products.

"Serena is one of the most dominant and recognisable female athletes of all time and she helped create one of Chase's most memorable campaigns to date," said Donna Vieira, chief marketing officer for Chase Consumer Banking.

Williams' triumphant 2015 tennis season included three Grand Slam titles and only three losses in 56 matches.

The wins and year-end No. 1 ranking triggered lucrative bonuses from sponsors like Nike and Wilson.

She also banked several million dollars through appearance fees from the International Premier Tennis League and events in New York, Puerto Rico and Belgium.

Williams nowadays counts more than a dozen brands in her endorsement portfolio, including Gatorade, Audemars Piguet, Delta Air Lines and IBM.

Her off-court income is an estimated US$20 million, including bonuses and appearance fees.

Sharapova's stock, on the other hand, has fallen this year.

She announced in March that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January, following which sponsors such as TAG Heuer and American Express did not renew deals with her, while Nike and Porsche both suspended promotional plans with her.

Her off-court income is down only US$3 million over the last 12 months, according to Forbes. But her income will plummet over the next 12 months as brands like Nike and Head will get big reductions on their endorsement commitments because the Russian will not play the minimum number of events this year required under the contracts.

The 29-year-old suffered the biggest hit on the court as her prize money dipped nearly US$5 million to US$1.9 million.

Mixed martial arts star Ronda Rousey ranks third in the Forbes list with US$14 million, up from No. 8 last year on earnings of US$6.5 million.

Others in the top five are Nascar's Danica Patrick at US$13.9 million and Polish tennis player Agnieszka Radwanska at US$10.2 million.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'Williams overtakes Sharapova in money list'. Print Edition | Subscribe