Women’s participation in sports rose in a very impressive manner in the 20th century, especially in the last quarter, reflecting changes in the contemporary sport sectors that emphasized gender equality. Although the level of involvement, performance and achievement still varies greatly by nation and by sport, sports women today have broad acceptance and popularity worldwide. In a few sports, such as figure skating or even tennis, these women have rivalled and edged their male counterparts in performance, popularity and earnings.
In terms of earnings, much like the heavyweight sports men of today, sports women also make millions of dollars in prize money a year. In addition to that, these women also have profitable endorsement deals with various companies, manufacturers and major corporations that provide them with playing equipment, and more. Several of those women also act as the spokespeople for the brands they represent. Therefore, regardless of their performance on their field of play, their ability to gain popularity and earn a lot of money through sponsorships and prizes is by no means a fluke.
Some of these 10 women on our list below have been playing their game for years, and are today the crème de la crème of their field of play, with their prize money, endorsements and salaries clearly reflecting that. So, without further ado, here we list the top 10 highest-earning sports women in 2014.
10. Paula Creamer – Golf – $5.5 million
Paula Creamer is an American professional golfer who turned pro in 2004. Her victory in the 2005’s Sybase Classic made her the second-youngest winner in the LPGA event. She has 11 professional wins under her belt, with 9 wins in the LPGA Tour and 2 wins in the LPGA of Japan Tour. Creamer won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open, making it her best result in LPGA Major Championships. She has been ranked as high as no. 2 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings. The 27-year-old currently lives in Windermere, Florida, and has a yearly income of $5.5 million. She is the youngest player in the LPGA tour to amass career winnings of $1 million. Creamer also makes about $4.5 million from several endorsement deals.
9. Ana Ivanovic – Tennis – $7 million
Ana Ivanovic became a professional tennis player in August, 2003. Since then, she has won 12 WTA Tour singles titles, including one Grand Slam singles title. She beat Dinara Sarina in the final to claim the 2008 French Open title. By the age of 18, Ivanovic had already defeated established tennis players such as Amelie Mouresmo, Vera Zvonareva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova. The Serbian was ranked no. 1 in the world in 2008. Currently, she is no. 14 in the WTA rankings for singles. The 26-year-old racks up $6 million from endorsement deals, and averages a yearly income of about $7 million.
8. Agnieszka Radwanska – Tennis – $7.4 million
Agnieszka Radwanska is a professional tennis player, turned pro in April, 2005. In 2006, she won the WTA award for the Most Impressive Newcomer. She was ranked No. 2 in the world in 2012 and is currently no. 5 in the WTA rankings for singles. Radwanska reached the final of Wimbledon in 2012, and became the first Polish player in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam singles final. Known for her intelligent use of the court and ability to construct points, the 24-year-old has won 13 WTA singles titles and 2 ITF singles events. She has a yearly income of $7.4 million, and makes about $2.5 million from endorsements.
7. Caroline Wozniacki – Tennis – $13.6 million
Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish professional tennis player. She turned pro in 2005, and made her WTA debut the same year. She has won 21 WTA singles titles, with three in both 2008 and 2009, six in both 2010 and 2011, two in 2012 and one in 2013. She also holds two WTA titles in doubles. The 23-year-old has yet to win a Grand Slam title, and is currently no. 10 in the WTA rankings for singles. She has, as of January, 2014, stacked up about $15.9 million in career winnings. Wozniacki’s yearly income rolls in at $13.6 million, and she racks up about $11 million from endorsement deals alone.
6. Kim Yuna – Figure Skating – $14 million
Kim Yuna is a South Korean figure skater who began skating in 1996. She won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 2010 Vancouver Ladies’ Singles event, and was the Four Continents champion in 2009. She is a three-time Grand Prix Final champion, a six-time South Korean national champion, the 2006 World Junior champion and the 2005 Junior Grand Prix Final champion. The 23-year-old has broken world record scores 11 times, eight of which were ones she set herself. Kim Yuna is one of the most highly recognized media figures and athletes in South Korea. She has a yearly income of $14 million.
5. Danica Patrick – Auto Racing – $15 million
Danica Patrick is the most successful and popular woman in the history of American open-wheel auto racing. She won the Indy Japan 300 in 2008, making her the only woman ever to claim a victory in an IndyCar Series race. Also, her third place finish in the Indianapolis 500 in 2009 is still the highest ever by a woman in that event. In 2013, Danica Patrick became the first female NASCAR driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Car Series pole, clocking in the fastest qualifying lap since 1990. The 31-year-old is also a model and advertising spokeswoman in the United States, and makes about $9 million from endorsement deals. Her yearly income is in the ballpark of $15 million.
4. Victoria Azarenka – Tennis – $15.7 million
Victoria Azarenka is a Belarusian professional tennis player, turned pro in 2003. She has won 17 WTA singles titles and one IFT singles event. She claimed victory at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, and became the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam title. She also won two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles at the 2007 US Open and the 2008 French Open, and went on to claim the gold medal for mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics. Azarenka is a former World No. 1, and is currently no. 2 in the WTA rankings for singles. The 24-year-old has a yearly income of $15.7 million, $9 million of which is generated from endorsements.
3. Li Na – Tennis – $18.2 million
Li Na rose to fame after winning the 2011 French Open singles title, making her the first and only Asian ever to be crowned the Grand Slam singles champion. The Chinese professional tennis player turned pro in 1999, and has since won 8 WTA and 19 IFT singles titles. She reached the final of the Australian Open in 2011, 2013 and 2014. She is currently no. 2 and Chinese no. 1 in the WTA rankings for singles. Her highest career-ranking is World No. 3 which she achieved in October, 2013. The 31-year-old has a yearly income of $18.2 million, and makes $15 million from endorsement deals. She is currently the third-highest earning sports woman in the world.
2. Serena Williams – Tennis – $20.5 million
Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player, turned pro in 1995, at the age of 14. She is the current World No. 1 in the WTA rankings for singles. Serena has won 58 WTA singles titles, making her the record holder for the most Major singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles combined, among both active male and female players. She has won 17 Grand Slam titles that include five Australian Open titles, five Wimbledon titles, five US Open titles and two French Open titles. She has also won 13 Major titles in women’s doubles and two Major titles in the mixed doubles. Serena’s annual income is $20.5 million, and she racks up $12 million from endorsement deals. The 32-year-old is the only female player in history to have won over $50 million in prize money.
1. Maria Sharapova – Tennis – $29 million
Maria Sharapova is the highest-earning sports woman in the world, with a yearly income of around $29 million. The Russian professional tennis player has earned about $27 million in prize money in her career so far. She turned pro in 2001, and has since won 29 WTA and four IFT singles titles. She has won all four Grand Slam titles; that includes winning Wimbledon in 2004 (against Serena Williams) as well as the 2006 US Open, the 2008 Australian Open and the 2012 French Open titles. She also won an Olympic silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Sharapova has been ranked World No. 1 in singles on five different occasions and is currently no. 3 in the WTA rankings for singles. The 26-year-old has been featured in a number of modelling campaigns and in many advertisements including those for Nike, Canon and Prince rackets. She earns a staggering $23 million a year from endorsement deals alone.
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