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Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka Dominate The Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka top Forbes' list of The Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019.
Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka Dominate The Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019

Tennis remains the most surefire way for female athletes to make millions of dollars.
Williams and Osaka both earned more than twice as much as the third-highest-paid female athlete in the world, Angelique Kerber, who pulled in $11.8 million from tennis.

Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player and former world No. 1. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. She reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time on July 8, 2002. On her sixth occasion, she held the ranking for 186 consecutive weeks, tying the record set by Steffi Graf. In total, she has been No. 1 for 319 weeks, which ranks third in the Open Era among female players behind Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. Her 39 major titles puts her joint-third on the all-time list and second in the Open Era: 23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and two in mixed doubles. She is the most recent female player to have held all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously (2002–03 and 2014–15) and the third player to achieve this twice, after Rod Laver and Graf. She is also the most recent[when?] player to have won a Grand Slam title on each surface (hard, clay and grass) in one calendar year. She is also, together with her sister Venus, the most recent player to have held all four Grand Slam women's doubles titles simultaneously (2009–10).

Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Grand Slam tournament wins in the Open Era and is second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court. She has won an all-time record of 13 Grand Slam singles titles on hard court. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open  and shares the Open Era record for most titles won at the US Open with Chris Evert . She also holds the all-time record for the most women's singles matches won at majors with 343 matches.

Williams has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, all with her sister Venus, and the pair are unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. As a team, she and Venus have the third most women's doubles Grand Slam titles, behind the 18 titles of Natasha Zvereva (14 with Gigi Fernández) and the record 20 titles won by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. Williams is also a five-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships in the singles division. She has also won four Olympic gold medals, one in women's singles and three in women's doubles—an all-time record shared with her sister, Venus. The arrival of the Williams sisters has been credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour. She is ranked at No. 10 in the world by the WTA as of August 5, 2019.

Earning almost $29 million in prize money and endorsements, Williams was the highest paid female athlete in 2016. She repeated this feat in 2017 when she was the only woman on Forbes' list of the 100 highest paid athletes with $27 million in prize money and endorsements. She has won the 'Laureus Sportswoman of the Year' award four times (2003, 2010, 2016, 2018), and in December 2015, she was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. In 2019, she was ranked 63rd in Forbes' World's Highest-Paid Athletes list.

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka entered the U.S. Open last year largely under the radar as the 19th-ranked player in the world. But that all changed with her run to the finals and her memorable win over Serena Williams. When Osaka backed up the Open title with a second straight Grand Slam win at the Australian Open in January, the next marketing superstar was born.

Osaka’s accomplishments, youth, skill and multicultural appeal make her a marketer’s dream. Born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father, she was the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam event and the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles.

Her off-court earnings jumped from $1.5 million annually to an estimated $16 million for the 12 months ending June 1, after she signed deals with Mastercard, All Nippon Airways, Nissan and Procter & Gamble.

Her endorsement haul will be even greater over the next year after she signed a blockbuster, multimillion-dollar pact with Nike in the spring, just ahead of our earnings cutoff. Osaka, 21, is primed to be one of the faces of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Including prize money, Osaka’s total earnings over the last 12 months were $24.3 million, by Forbes’ count. That makes her just the fourth female athlete to earn $20 million in a year, joining three fellow tennis aces: Williams, Maria Sharapova and Li Na.

Osaka’s big payday still trails that of Williams, who is the world’s highest-paid female athlete for the fourth year in a row. She earned $29.2 million, including $4.2 million in prize money, after returning to the WTA Tour following the birth of her daughter, Olympia, in September 2017.

Williams continues to expand one of the most robust endorsement portfolios in sports, adding Pampers, Axa Financial and General Mills to her roster. They join more than a dozen other brands, like Nike, Beats, Gatorade and JPMorgan Chase.

The 23-time Grand Slam champ scores highly across all demographics, and among athletes, only Tiger Woods and Tom Brady have higher levels of awareness with U.S. consumers. Williams’ $225 million estimated net worth makes her the only athlete on Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.

Top 10 Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019 List:

1. Serena Williams
Serena Williams

Total Earnings: $29.2 million

Prize Money: $4.2 million

Endorsements: $25 million

Williams, 37, wants to play through at least next year but is already planning her next act with a clothing line, S by Serena, and aims to launch jewelry and beauty products lines by the end of 2020. She has also built a venture portfolio worth more than $10 million.

2. Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka

Total Earnings: $24.3 million

Prize Money: $8.3 million

Endorsements: $16 million

Naomi Osaka is a professional tennis player who represents Japan. She is the reigning champion in women's singles at the US Open and the Australian Open. Osaka is ranked No. 2 by the Women's Tennis Association and is a former world No. 1 player. She is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles.

Nike shocked the tennis world when it announced in April it had secured Osaka to an endorsement deal. Most observers thought she would return to Adidas, which had Osaka under contract until her deal expired at the end of 2018.

Angelique Kerber

Total Earnings: $11.8 million

Prize Money: $5.3 million

Endorsements: $6.5 million

Angelique Kerber is a German professional tennis player. A former world No. 1 and winner of three Grand Slam tournaments, she made her professional debut in 2003 and rose to prominence upon reaching the semifinals of the 2011 US Open as the No. 92-ranked player in the world.

Kerber won Wimbledon in 2018 and finished the year ranked second in the world, triggering bonuses from her partners. She renewed deals with Adidas, SAP, Generali and NetJets and recently inked a new pact with Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders brand. Other endorsements include Yonex, Porsche, Rolex and Lavazza.

Simona Halep

Total Earnings: $10.2 million

Prize Money: $6.2 million

Endorsements: $4 million

Simona Halep is a Romanian professional tennis player. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles twice between 2017 and 2019. In total, she has been No. 1 for 64 weeks, which ranks tenth in the history of the Women's Tennis Association rankings. Halep was the year-end No. 1 in 2017 and 2018.

Halep led the sport in prize money in 2018 and ranks fifth on the all-time list with $33 million. She won Grand Slam titles each of the past two years, triggering lucrative bonuses. The Romanian pro counts Nike, Wilson, Mercedes-Benz and Hublot among her sponsors.

Sloane Stephens

Total Earnings: $9.6 million

Prize Money: $4.1 million

Endorsements: $5.5 million

Sloane Stephens is an American professional tennis player. She is ranked in the top 10 by the Women's Tennis Association, and achieved a career-best ranking of No. 3 in the world after Wimbledon in 2018. Stephens was the 2017 US Open champion, and has won six WTA singles titles in total.

Stephens reached the finals of four events last year and finished the year ranked No. 6 overall. Her Nike pact, which began last year, is one of the biggest in the sport. She showcased a tennis shoe based on the “Aqua” colorway of Nike’s retro Air Jordan VIII this summer.

Caroline Wozniacki

Total Earnings: $7.5 million

Prize Money: $3.5 million

Endorsements: $4 million

Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 in singles, the 20th in the Open Era, and the first woman from a Scandinavian country to hold the top ranking position. She finished on top of the rankings in both 2010 and 2011.

Wozniacki won a trio of events in 2018 and ranked among the top three players during the entire year. She married former NBA player David Lee in June. The wedding brought together stars from their respective sports, with Serena Williams a bridesmaid and other attendees including Angelique Kerber, Pau Gasol and Harrison Barnes.

Maria Sharapova

Total Earnings: $7 million

Prize Money: $1 million

Endorsements: $6 million

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is a Russian professional tennis player. A United States resident since 1994, Sharapova has competed on the WTA tour since 2001. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks.

Injuries limited Sharapova to only 18 matches over the past year, but she maintains a lucrative endorsement with Nike, in addition to her Porsche, Head, Evian and Tag Heuer partnerships. Sharapova invested in the UFC and skincare brand Supergoop, yet her main off-court focus is building her candy brand Sugarpova.

Karolina Pliskova

Total Earnings: $6.3 million

Prize Money: $4.6 million

Endorsements: $1.7 million

Karolína Plíšková is a Czech professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 and is currently ranked No. 3 in the world by the Women's Tennis Association. Plíšková has won fourteen singles and five doubles titles on the WTA tour, as well as 10 singles and six doubles titles on the ITF circuit in her career.

The Czech-born Pliskova has won four events over the past 12 months but has not reached a Slam final since losing the 2016 U.S. Open. Pliskova bumped her off-court earnings with a new contract with FILA that kicked in this year.

Elina Svitolina

Total Earnings: $6.1 million

Prize Money: $4.6 million

Endorsements: $1.5 million

Elina Svitolina is a Ukrainian tennis player. Having turned professional in 2010, she reached her career-high ranking of world No. 3 on 11 September 2017.

Svitolina scored the biggest win of her career when she captured the WTA Finals title in Singapore to end the 2018 season. The Ukrainian-born pro pocketed $2.4 million for the win and finished the year with a No. 4 world ranking, triggering bonuses from sponsors Nike and Wilson.

Venus Williams

Total Earnings: $5.9 million

Prize Money: $900,000

Endorsements: $5 million

Venus Ebony Starr Williams is an American professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 50 in the WTA singles rankings. She is generally credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour.

The 39-year-old Williams invested in wellness brand Astura and was appointed chief brand officer of the company in May. A 23-time Grand Slam champion, including doubles, she launched her own YouTube channel last month focused on “fitness, tennis, wellness, design and more.” Williams can bank six figures a pop on the speaking circuit.
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