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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday August 20, 2020


The WTA is the dominant force in women’s sports. And it has been proven to be truer than ever this week, as Forbes has released its highest-paid female athletes list, which includes a whopping nine WTA players in its top 10.

Tennis Express

It’s not the only good news we’ve heard with relation to women’s tennis and financial compensation of late. There was the largest prize money payout in the history of tennis last year at Shenzhen, which got Ash Barty a $4.42 million payout.

Then there was this:

In May Forbes released its unisex list of the 100 highest-paid athletes and revealed that Naomi Osaka had become the highest-paid female athlete in history by earning $37.4 million during the 52-week period beginning June 1, 2019.

Osaka is 29th on that unisex list, ahead of her compatriot and fellow Japanese megastar Kei Nishikori, who ranks 40th. How do you like them apples?

Trailing close behind on the female list was Serena Williams, coming in at $36 million in earnings (a cool $32 mil came from her plethora of endorsements).

The two-headed monster at the top of the WTA’s earning list has distanced itself from the rest of the field, but nevertheless Forbes’ most recent tally showcases the top-to-bottom earning power of the women’s tour compared to other female professional sports. Third on the list is Ash Barty, who earned $13.1 million, and fourth is Simona Halep, with $10.9 million earned.

The success of the WTA should be trumpeted. It can’t be bad for the sport to be the singular economic powerhouse that consistently sets the tone for women’s sports when it comes to making money. That said, it’d sure be nice to see other incredible female athletes in other sports find their way onto this list.

As a side note, we came across Jon Wertheim’s notes on the subject, and he appears to be a little bit skeptical of these Forbes’ list. Here’s what he had to say:


“I’m always skeptical of the math on these ratings. (Kids, if you put your thumb-type phones down, stop with the TikTok, and gather 'round grandpa, I’ll tell you about the time that Anna Kournikova’s estimated net worth included her Lycos stock options.) So many endorsement contracts are incentive-based. So many players, including Serena, have equity stakes in start-ups. There’s no accounting for expenses. (Between travel and coaching and agent fees, there are significant costs for tennis players that, say, a WNBA player would not incur.) On this list specifically, where’s Megan Rapinoe, whose book deal and development deal alone are well into seven figures?"


He makes some good points. Nevertheless, the WTA is clearly the leader when it comes to earning opportunity in women’s sports. It’s nice to have the positive reinforcement and to know that young players will have that extra incentive to pick up the racquet instead of choosing another sport. On the men’s side, we know it’s the other way around on many occasions.

Things could change over the next few years, with prize money and endorsements threatened across the board due to the coronavirus pandemic, but even so, it’s clear that when the recovery comes, women’s tennis will lead the way out.

Here is the list in full:

Naomi Osaka

Total Earnings: $37.4 million
Prize Money: $3.4 million
Endorsements: $34 million

Serena Williams

Total Earnings: $36 million
Prize Money: $4 million
Endorsements: $32 million

Ash Barty

Total Earnings: $13.1 million
Prize Money: $10.1 million
Endorsements: $3 million

Simona Halep

Total Earnings: $10.9 million
Prize Money: $6.9 million
Endorsements: $4 million

Bianca Andreescu

Total Earnings: $8.9 million
Prize Money: $4.9 million
Endorsements: $4 million

GarbiƱe Muguruza

Total Earnings: $6.6 million
Prize Money: $2.1 million
Endorsements: $4.5 million

Elina Svitolina

Total Earnings: $6.4 million
Prize Money: $5.4 million
Endorsements: $1 million

Sofia Kenin

Total Earnings: $5.8 million
Prize Money: $4.8 million
Endorsements: $1 million

Angelique Kerber

Total Earnings: $5.3 million
Prize Money: $1.3 million
Endorsements: $4 million

Alex Morgan (Soccer)
Total Earnings: $4.6 million
Salary/bonus: $400,000
Endorsements: $4.2 million

 

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