Wages earned by female athletes in today's world has been a hot topic discussed on sports shows and among fans and analysts via social media websites such as Twitter for some time. The topic made national headlines in the United States earlier this year when it was learned that United States Women's National Team stars had accused U.S. Soccer of what those players deemed to be “wage discrimination.” There are several factors, beyond wins and losses, that affect how athletes are paid. Media rights deals, tournament prizes and revenue generated are a few of the variables that could explain why certain athletes make more money than others.
One thing known for sure, per the information provided by Forbes in the spring of 2016, is that women's tennis still sits atop the figurative mountain as it pertains to the highest paid female athletes in the world. The highest paid female athlete on the planet this past year also happens to be the best women's player in the world, the best women's player of her generation and probably, all things considered, the best female tennis player in history. That woman has also done well to expand beyond the world of tennis, as she has business endeavors waiting for her whenever she decides to hang her racket up once and for all.
10 Eugenie Bouchard: $6.2 Million Earnings
It was not all that long ago when Eugenie Bouchard seemed to be the next big thing in women's tennis. Bouchard made it to the 2014 Wimbledon Final, and, even though she lost, it appeared that it would only be a matter of time before Bouchard became a Grand Slam champion. That has not yet been the case, however, as injury woes and also a lack of form have seen Bouchard drop down the rankings. Bouchard nevertheless has working relationships with multiple companies, and she is still only 22 years old. The future remains bright for Bouchard.
9 Victoria Azarenka: $6.6 Million
Victoria Azarenka is one of several female tennis players on the tour to have become a rival of both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Like the others, Azarenka has not yet been able to leapfrog either Williams or Sharapova in multiple categories. The last couple of years were hard for Azarenka because of injury problems, but she once again found success and big wins during the first half of 2016. Azarenka did, however, pick up a knee injury during the 2016 French Open. Here is hoping that Azarenka enjoys a return to full fitness before the summer of 2016 begins.
8 Ana Ivanovic: $7.4 Million
The last few seasons have been filled with ups and downs for Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic made it to the semifinals of the 2015 French Open, but that is, to date, the last time that she made such a lengthy run during a Grand Slam event. 2016 has not been all that kind to Ivanovic, as she has failed to make much noise during the biggest tournaments of the year to date. Ivanovic should not be hurting for cash anytime soon regardless of her form, however, as Forbes lists Shiseido and Dubai Duty Free as two of her endorsement partners. Per Forbes, Ivanovic made over $5 million from endorsements last year.
7 Garbine Muguruza: $7.6 Million
Remember when Garbine Muguruza was thought of as a newcomer in the world of women's tennis? Those days are now well into the past. Muguruza made a run all the way to the Wimbledon Final in the summer of 2015, where she fell short and lost to Serena Williams. The two once again met in a Grand Slam Final in 2016 when they played on clay at the French Open. It was Muguruza who won the day this time around, hoisting the French Open trophy to the surprise of some who likely assumed that Williams would win yet another title. Get used to seeing Muguruza playing for championships.
6 Caroline Wozniacki: $8 Million
Have smart businessmen and businesswomen in your corner. That is what you may want to take from this portion of the piece. Carolina Wozniacki rose all the way to No. 1 in the world rankings earlier in her career, but she has since plummeted down those rankings after a long list of disappointing results. Wozniacki has nevertheless found success off of the court, though, as Forbes reported that she made roughly $7 million off of endorsement deals in the past year. It is believed that Wozniacki will compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics. That could lead to Wozniacki earning even more endorsement opportunities.
5 Agnieszka Radwanska: $10.2 Million
Per the information offered by Forbes, Agnieszka Radwanska has won $23 million in prize money during her career. That puts her at sixth all-time among female players. There is no reason to believe that Radwanska will be off of lists of the highest paid female athletes in the world anytime soon. As of the posting of this piece, Radwanska sits at third in the WTA world rankings. Radwanska's success on the court allowed her to obtain endorsement deals from multiple companies. Imagine what may be in her immediate future if she wins at Wimbledon in 2016.
4 Danica Patrick: $13.9 Million
Danica Patrick deserves all the credit in the world for being more than just a NASCAR competitor and a female athlete. Patrick realized many years ago that she was a business and a brand unto herself, and she has done well to cash in on her fame and on her celebrity. The possibility exists that Patrick will never win a NASCAR event. Patrick's lack of victories off of the track have not scared away companies like Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Nationwide from doing business with her. In some ways, Patrick has provided a blueprint for future female athletes as it pertains to making as much money as possible over a set amount of time.
3 Ronda Rousey: $14 Million
The irony here is that Ronda Rousey may never again be among the highest paid female athletes in the world because there is no guarantee, as of June 2016, that she will have another match in the Ultimate Fighting Championship or in any other promotion. Rousey, who has landed multiple movie roles and who also had a memorable spot inside of the ring at a WrestleMania, has not committed herself to another UFC fight since suffering a loss to Holly Holm in November 2015. The “Rowdy” one has made millions of dollars, it is believed that she has been smart with her money, and she has opportunities outside of the cage. Rousey's fight career could be winding down.
2 Maria Sharapova: $21.9 Million
None of us can, at this time, guess what the future will hold for Maria Sharapova. An all-time great tennis player who has also served as a model and who has found success as a businesswoman, Sharapova shocked the tennis world earlier this year when she announced that she had been popped during a drug test. We learned in June 2016 that Sharapova has been banned for two years because of that failed test. Sharapova turned 29 years old earlier this year, and she has made millions upon millions of dollars. It is possible that we have seen Sharapova play her final ever meaningful tennis match.
1 Serena Williams: $28.9 Million
When it comes to success on the court, prize winnings and earnings off of the court, there is Serena Williams and then there is everybody else. Williams is the undisputed queen of women's tennis and the greatest player in the history of the women's game. Those who are not tennis fans have likely recently seen Williams in a television commercial, a car ad that first aired during the Super Bowl. That right there says a lot about Williams' fame and about the endorsement deals and business endeavors she has landed when not dominating opponents. When all is said and done, Williams may be seen as the most successful female athlete of the past 100 years.