The coronavirus pandemic did not stall the earnings of female sports stars.
The 10 highest-earning female athletes made a combined $167 million before taxes in 2021, a 23% jump from 2020 levels, according to a new annual earnings list from Forbes.
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Interestingly, just one of the 10 athletes on the list made more money directly from her sport than she did “off the field.”
Here is a list of the 10 highest-paid female athletes and how they made their money. The dollar figures below were calculated by Forbes.
10. Candace Parker, $5.7 million
Candace Parker of the Chicago Sky
The star of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, Candace Parker, benefits from a lot of endorsement deals to counteract the fact that her WNBA salary is capped at $200,000 due to league rules. Parker has deals with Adidas
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Parker also works as an NBA analyst for Turner Sports.
Parker’s earnings from the past year were $200,000 on the court, and $5.5 million off the court.
9. Nelly Korda, $5.9 million
Nelly Korda plays in a ProAm in Orlando, Florida.
Korda, one of the LPGA’s star golfers, won her first major at the Women’s PGA Championship.
Korda benefits from several sponsorships, including Hanwha Q Cells, a manufacturer of solar cells, and UKG, a tech company focused on workforce management, according to Forbes.
Korda’s earnings from the past year were $2.4 million on the course, and $3.5 million off the course.
8. Ashleigh Barty, $6.9 million
Ashleigh Barty of Australia smiles during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open.
Barty is the only athlete on this list who made more money from playing her sport than she did through other endeavors.
She was the highest-earning woman based on from tennis tournament winnings in 2021.
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Barty’s earnings from the past year were $3.9 million on the court, and $3 million off the court.
7. P.V. Sindhu, $7.2 million
India’s PV Sindhu eyes the shuttlecock during her women’s singles final match at the BWF Badminton World Championships.
Perhaps not a household name in the U.S., Sindhu is a 26-year-old badminton star from India. Sindhu has medaled in each of the last two Olympics Games.
Sindhu has over 3 million followers on Instagram, and has lucrative sponsorship deals with ed-tech giant Byju’s and used-car platform Spinny, in addition to partners like Li-Ning sportswear and India’s Bank of Baroda, according to Forbes.
Sindhu’s earnings from the past year were $200,000 on the court, and $7 million off it.
6. Jin Young Ko, $7.5 million
Jin Young Ko of Korea.
Golf star Jin Young Ko has been one of the top earning women’s golfers for years. The South Korean golfer won the CME group Tour Championship last year, netting $1.5 million for that tournament alone.
Young Ko’s sponsorship deals include LG Electronics
Jeju SamDaSoo mineral water and Rejuran skincare products, according to Forbes.
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Young Ko’s earnings from the past year were $3.5 million on the course, and $4 million off it.
5. Garbiñe Muguruza, $8.8 million
Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Tennis star Garbiñe Muguruza won three tournaments in 2021, leading to multi-millions in on-court earnings. The Spaniard has endorsement deals with companies including Adidas, Babolat, Jaguar and Nivea.
Muguruza’s earnings from the past year were $2.8 million on tennis courts, and $6 million off them.
4. Simone Biles, $10.1 million
USA’s Simone Biles applauds during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Simone Biles competed in the Tokyo Olympics last year and won the bronze medal on the balance beam. She withdrew from many events during the Tokyo Games, citing mental health issues.
It is difficult to make big money directly from the sport of gymnastics, so Biles’s earnings come mostly from her sponsorship and brand deals. Biles has deals with Tom Brady’s NFT company Autograph, as well as Athleta, Visa
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Biles’s earnings from the past year were $100,000 in the gym, and $10 million out of the gym.
3. Venus Williams, $11.3 million
Venus Williams serves during the 2021 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.
Tennis legend Venus Williams doesn’t play as many tournaments as she once did — she played in just nine in 2021.
So the 41-year-old made nearly all of her money last year from sponsorship and brand deals including her own apparel brand EleVen, Wilson, Electronic Arts
and Tide. Williams also owns a small stake in the NFL’s Miami Dolphins with her sister Serena.
Venus Williams’s earnings from the past year were $300,000 on the court, and $11 million off the court.
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2. Serena Williams, $45.9 million
Serena Williams serves during the women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, 2017.
There is a huge jump in earnings from the number three spot on this list to the number two spot. And the jump in earnings is between two sisters.
Serena Williams has claimed the top earnings spot on this list for many years. The 40-year-old tennis legend played in just six tennis tournaments last year, and dropped sharply in the World Tennis Association rankings.
Despite the drop, Williams is a sponsorship and business maven. She has deals with Nike
Gatorade, and AT&T
Williams also has a venture capital firm Serena Ventures where she has invested in over 40 companies, according to data from Crunchbase.
Serena Williams’s earnings from the past year were $900,000 on the court, and $45 million off the court.
1. Naomi Osaka, $57.3 million
Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning a match at the 2021 French Open.
For the second year in a row, Naomi Osaka is the highest-earning female athlete in the world.
Osaka also out-earned every male tennis player in the world outside of Switzerland’s Roger Federer— Federer has been tennis’ highest-paid player for 16 straight years, according to Forbes.
The Japanese tennis star has massive sponsorship deals with Nike, Louis Vitton, Sweetgreen
Tag Heuer and Autograph, among others. Over the past few years, Osaka has admitted to struggling with mental health issues that have forced her out of some tournaments, even saying “It’s O.K. not to be O.K.“
Osaka’s earnings from the past year were $2.3 million on the court, and $55 million off the court.