When it comes to popular professional sports, it is not usually difficult for talented male athletes to translate their on-field prowess into financial success out of uniform. The same cannot be said for their female counterpats, some of who have been champions in advocating for equal pay for equal play. Here are the most paid.
1. Serena Williams (Net Worth Sh16.6 billion)
Serena Williams is a dominating force in the sport of tennis. Currently ranked No 21 in the world, Williams started her professional career in 1995. She has won a staggering 22 Grand Slam singles, 72 in all, and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, 23 in all. She has also won two mixed doubles titles. Like her sister, Venus, she is a decorated Olympian with a total of four gold medals.
Williams was the highest-paid female athlete on 2016 Forbes’ list, having earned $28.9 million (Sh3b) in 2016, $20 million (Sh2b) of which came from endorsements from sponsors like Nike and Wilson. She also enjoys sponsorship deals with companies like Beats, Delta Air Lines and IBM, among others.
2. Maria Sharapova
(Net Worth: Sh14 billion) Russian-born Maria Sharapova began her professional career in 2001. She has won 23 singles titles, including five Grand Slams, and three doubles titles. Sharapova won a silver medal for women’s singles at the 2012 London Olympics. Sharapova was just one of two female athletes to make the 2016 Forbes’ list.
She earned $21.9 million (Sh2.2b) that year, $20 million (Sh2b) of which was from endorsements. She was suspended over doping in March 2016 and lost sponsor Tag Heuer after the announcement.
3. Alexis DeJoria (Net Worth: Sh10.3 billion)
Alexis DeJoria is a drag racer competing in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). DeJoria races the Funny Car, a type of race car that can reach speeds over 330 miles per hour. She has four career wins in the NHRA Funny Car Division and is the first female driver to be clocked under four seconds in a Funny Car.
DeJoria is the daughter of billionaire entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, who co-founded the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and The Patrón Spirits Company. DeJoria’s Toyota Camry Funny Car is sponsored by Tequila Patrón.
4. Venus Williams (Net Worth: Sh7.7 billion)
Currently ranked No.5, Venus Williams is one of the most famous names in the sport of tennis. Williams became a professional tennis player in 1994, one year before her younger sister Serena. Williams has won 49 singles titles and 22 doubles titles.
She has also won five Olympic medals, four gold and one silver. In 2016, she and Serena won their sixth Wimbledon doubles title. Williams has won more than $36 million (Sh3.7b) in prize money throughout her career. She also enjoys a number of endorsement deals, which add to her net worth of $75 million (Sh7.7b).
5. Danica Patrick (Net Worth: Sh6.2 billion)
Auto racer Danica Patrick started her career as an Indianapolis 500 racer. She is the first woman to lead laps and score a top five finish in the Indianapolis 500, a feat she achieved in 2005. She is also the first woman to win an IndyCar race, the Indy Japan 300 in 2008.
In 2013, Patrick made the move to NASCAR. She drives the No.10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Patrick has enjoyed a number of different endorsement deals throughout her career. She is famously associated with GoDaddy.
6. Anna Kournikova (Net Worth: Sh5 billion)
Anna Kournikova is no doubt one of the most famous female tennis players of all time. The Russian player enjoyed some success throughout her career, including two Grand Slam doubles wins; however, she never won a Grand Slam singles title.
Despite mediocre success on the court, Kournikova enjoyed a number of lucrative endorsements due to her growing celebrity. In 2012, Kournikova appeared as a celebrity trainer on the show “The Biggest Loser.” She continues to model today.
7. Li Na (Net Worth: Sh5 billion)
Chinese tennis star Li Na shot to fame in 2011 when she became the first Asian player to make the finals at the Australian Open and the first Asian-born tennis player ever to win a Grand Slam singles event at the French Open.
Na returned to Australia in 2014 to claim the Grand Slam title. Na announced her retirement in 2014, the same year Forbes named her one of the highest-paid female athletes. Na earned $23.6 million (Sh2.4b) in 2014, $18 million (Sh1.8b) of which was from endorsements. Na has continued to enjoy big endorsement deals long after her retirement. Recently, she partnered with Nike to launch the Li Na collection in China.
8. Annika Sörenstam (Net Worth: Sh4 billion)
Regarded as one of the best female golfers of all time, Annika Sörenstam entered the professional circuit in 1994. Throughout her career, she had a total of 89 wins, including 10 major wins. She also accumulated countless other awards, including eight ESPYs. In 2003, she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Retired since 2008, Sörenstam’s career earnings are more than $22 million (Sh2.2b). According to her website, she is the first player in LPGA history to cross the $20 million (Sh2b) earnings mark.
9. Martina Hingis (Net Worth: Sh2.6 billion)
Considered a teenage prodigy, Martina Hingis became the youngest ever Grand Slam junior winner in 1993, one year prior to the start of her professional career. She won a total of 81 titles from 1994-2007.
Hingis retired from singles play in 2002 only to return again a couple of years later. She retired from singles again in 2007. Today, Hingis enjoys a successful doubles career. At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Hingis and partner Timea Bacsinszky won silver medals for Switzerland.
10. Agnieszka Radwańska (Net Worth: Sh2.6 billion)
Polish tennis player Agnieszka Radwańska began her professional career in 2005, as did her younger sister, Urszula. Currently ranked No. 28, Radwańska has won 20 singles titles and two doubles titles.
In 2016, she pulled in an impressive $10.2 million (Sh1b), roughly half of which was from prize money and the other half from endorsements. At the end of 2016, her prize money totaled $23 million (Sh2.3b), the sixth highest of all time. Radwańska’s endorsement deals include Lotto, Babolat and Lexus, among others.