Being a woman in today’s society is challenging enough, and it is even trickier in the world of sports. Men are typically paid significantly more than women in pretty much any sport. That is not to say that the top female athletes aren’t incredibly wealthy. For example, female tennis players make the most money out of all professional female athletes.
Naomi Osaka, for instance, entered the U.S. Open last year largely under the radar as the 19th ranked player in the world. But all that changed when she played against Serena Williams and won. When Osaka continued on to win the Open title with a second straight Grand Slam win at the Australian Open in January, a superstar was born. To clarify-not only is Osaka a highly skilled player, but her youth and multicultural appeal make her a marketing gem. Being half Japanese and half Haitian-American, she was actually the first Japanese player to ever win a Grand Slam event and the first Asian player to maintain a top ranking in singles. Her off-court earnings have genuinely skyrocketed. She was taking in $1.5 million annually, until she signed deals with Mastercard, All Nippon Airways, Nissan, and Procter & Gamble. Osaka is now earning an estimated $16 million.
Even though Osaka’s earnings are quite significant, she still trails behind Serena Williams, who is the highest-paid female athlete for the fourth year in a row. She is now bringing in over $29 million, including $4.2 million in prize money. This was shortly after returning to the WTA Tour after the birth of her daughter. Williams collects endorsement portfolios with over a dozen brands such as Axa Financial, General Mills, Nike, Beats, Gatorade, and JPMorgan Chase. Williams has taken home the Grand Slam 23 times and has the highest levels of awareness with United States consumers. Only Tiger Woods and Tom Brady beat those levels. Serena has an impressive net worth of $225 million, making her the only athlete on the Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.
Williams and Osaka each earned twice as much as the third-highest paid female athlete in the world. Angelique Kerber managed to pull in $11.8 million from tennis. Winner of three Grand Slam tournaments, she made her professional debut in 2003. She rose to fame as she reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Open as the 92nd player in the world. Her net worth is currently at $30 million. Most of her money comes from court earnings, though she did bring in $5 million due to endorsements.
Tennis is the way to go for female athletes to make real money. The WTA Tour even announced that the winners would be paid $4.7 million this year, which is the most generous payout in the history of men’s or women’s tennis. Total prize money on the WTA Tour is $179 million in 2019, and the ten highest-paid female athletes in the world this year are all tennis players. Women from soccer, golf, and badminton take the next five slots.
Simona Halep has been incredibly successful this year in her career as a tennis player. She finished as the WTA’s top-ranked player in both 2017 and 2018 and is currently ranked 4th behind Osaka, Barty, and Plíšková. Halep even beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon in the historic match of 2019. This year alone, she brought in $10.2 million in prize money. Even though Nike is among her endorsement deals, she is the only player in the top four earners to have made more in winnings over the past year than in endorsements.