African-American tennis icon Serena Williams is the highest-paid female athlete in 2016. For years, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has held that top spot with her handsome income plus tons of expensive endorsements from huge brands like Porsche, Nike and Tag Heuer.
However this year, Williams beat Sharapova, who only earned $21.9 million after her name was marred by a doping scandal. Serena Williams’s earnings soared to $28.9 million for the past 12 months- making her indisputably the highest-paid female player in the world.
Serena first won a grand slam title when she was just 17. Now that she’s turning 35, the oldest woman to win an Open Era grand slam, she has taken home a total of 21 grand slam titles. Unstoppable, isn’t she?
But Serena did not just excel in the tennis court. As a social media champion and trusted brand ambassador, she has worked with JP Morgan and Chase, Gatorade, Pepsi Co, Delta Airlines, IBM and more. Adding up her equity deals, endorsements and small stakes, she earns about $20 million off-court.
Her blessings may have been brought by good karma. The tennis celebrity helped causes and charities and has recently opened schools in Jamaica and Africa. She also became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, helping out marginalized children in Asia.
It seems that hard work, insane talent, and generosity paid off her Serena. But not as well as her male comrades. For instance, tennis stars Roger Federer (rank # 4) and Rafael Nadal (rank # 21) rack up more money from endorsements than her. In fact, among the world’s highest-paid athletes (male and female), Serena only ranked number 40, meaning the first 39 players are men. Without question, gender pay gap is more pronounced in the world of sports.