Tennis star Maria Sharapova topped Forbes list of the highest paid female athletes for the 7th straight year. The three-time Major winner and 2011 Wimbledon finalist and Roland Garros semifinalist earned $25 million in prizemoney, endorsements, appearance fee and exhibitions. Her Nike contract was extended for 8 years, with her sales up 26% in 2010. Her Cole Haan ballet flat is that subsidiary of Nike’s biggest selling shoe. She also endorses Tag Heuer, Tiffany, Sony Ericsson, Evian, Head Racquets and Clear Shampoo. She has over 5.2 million Facebook followers (including me 🙂 ).
7 of the top 9 best paid female athletes are tennis players. If Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams had not missed significant time due to injury the past year, they probably would have higher totals. Serena missed the 2010 US Open, 2011 Australian Open and 2011 Roland Garros. After starting 2011 by winning the Australian Open Clijsters went into Roland Garros with an injury and was bounced early. The same injury caused her to missed Wimbledon. Li Na’s great play reaching the final of the 2011 Australian Open and winning Roland Garros propelled her to add several sponsors including Mercedes-Benz and Haagen-Dazs to her existing Nike sponsorship.
The LPGA was represented in the top 10 by Paula Creamer, the Pink Panther.
Top 10 women earners
- 1. Maria Sharapova $25 million (Russia, tennis)
- 2. Caroline Wozniacki $12.5 million (Denmark, tennis)
- 3. Danica Patrick $12 million (U.S., motor racing)
- 4. Venus Williams $11.5 million (U.S., tennis)
- 5. Kim Clijsters $11 million (Belgium, tennis)
- 6. Serena Williams $10.5 million (U.S., tennis)
- 7. Kim Yeon-A $10 million (figure skating, South Korea)
- 8. Li Na $8 million (China, tennis)
- 9. Ana Ivanovic $6 million (Serbia, tennis)
- 10. Paula Creamer $5.5 million (U.S., golf)