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The Highest-Paid Female Athletes of the 2010s

The 2010s have ended, and what a decade it was for female sports. In the last 10 years, we watched the incredible legacy of Venus and Serena Williams continue to take shape. We witnessed the meteoric rise of breakout talents like Simone Biles, Ronda Rousey, and Naomi Osaka (two of which made this list). And we experienced a thrilling Japan-United States Women’s World Cup rivalry.

The past decade has also seen a shift in public opinion on gender equality, and the sports world has been center stage. The clearest example might be the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team gender discrimination lawsuit, further highlighting the gender pay gap in sports.

Since 1990, Forbes has been tracking athletes’ earnings, and each year they publish a list of the highest-paid female athletes. These figures only include salary, bonuses, prize money and endorsements, and don’t include outside investments or money made after retirement. We analyzed this and other publicly available earnings data to compile this list of the estimated total earnings of the top-earning female athletes of the last decade.

1. Serena Williams

Image: Yann Caradec | Header Image: Edward Martinez

Earnings: $217.3 million

Sport: Tennis

Serena Williams started the 2010 season as the World No. 1 spot and continued to be a dominant force in professional tennis for the rest of the decade. She held all 4 Grand Slams titles in 2014-15, and tied the record for longest consecutive weeks at World No. 1 with 186 weeks from 2013 to 2016.

Along with her sister, Venus, she’s transformed the sport of tennis in many ways, and she’s dominated the sport perhaps unlike any other player in history. She’s also the highest paid female tennis player of all time, with career earnings of over $92.7 million.

She’s also become a cultural icon (making it onto the Wheaties box, for example), and pulled in an estimated $217.3 million in prize money and endorsements in the last decade.

2. Maria Sharapova

Image: Michael Brown

Earnings: $199.1 million

Sport: Tennis

Maria Sharapova competed on the WTA tour from 2001 to 2020. She was ranked world No. 1 for a total of 21 weeks in her career, and is one of only ten women to hold the career Grand Slam (winning all 4 Grand Slam tennis events at least once).

Now retired, Sharapova earned over $38.7 million in prize money over career. She pulled in an estimated $199.1 million in prize money and endorsements in the 2010s.

3. Danica Patrick

Image: Zach Catanzareti

Earnings: $114.5 million

Sport: Indy Car Racing

Danica Patrick was the first woman to ever win an Indy Car race, and she’s the most successful female Indy Car racer in history.

She started the 2010s with critical acclaim like being named a candidate for Time’s top 100 most influential people in the world, and being ranked on Bloomberg’s most powerful people in the world of sports.

She retired in 2018, but not before earning an estimated $114.5 million in prize money and endorsements in the 2010s.

4. Caroline Wozniacki

Image: James Boyes

Earnings: $103.1 million

Sport: Tennis

Caroline Wozniacki finished at the World No. 1 spot at the end of 2010 and 2011, during which years she won 6 WTA Titles. She reclaimed the No. 1 spot again in January 2018, after winning her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

She retired in January 2020, having earned over $35.2 million in career prize money. She earned an estimated $103.1 million from prize money and endorsements in the 2010s.

5. Venus Williams

Image: Edwin Martinez

Earnings: $73.3 million

Sport: Tennis

Venus Williams began her professional tennis career at the age of 14 in 1994, and is still competing as of this writing. She started the decade by winning Doubles titles with her sister Serena at both the Australian Open and the French Open in 2010.

The 2010s brought troubles like a back injury and Sjögrens Syndrome diagnosis, but despite all that, she managed to set an Olympic gold medal record (tied for most Olympic gold medals of any tennis player, male or female), and make it to the finals in the Australian Open in 2017. With the 2017 AO appearance, she set the Open Era record for the longest span (20 years) between grand slam singles final appearances. Her first grand slam singles final was at the 1997 US Open.

As of this writing, she’s earned $41.8 million in career prize money. And in the last decade, she pulled in an estimated $73.3 million in prize money and endorsements.

6. Li Na

Image: Mike McCune

Earnings: $70.2 million

Sport: Tennis

Li Na began the 2010s by breaking into the top 10 rankings, being the first Chines player to do so. She later won two Grand Slam titles at the French Open in 2011, and Australian Open in 2014, making her the first Grand Slam singles champion from Asia.

Li earned $16.7 million in prize money over her career. Despite retiring in 2014, she still managed to pull in an estimated $70.2 million in prize money and earnings in the 2010s.

7. Yuna Kim

Image: Republic of Korea

Earnings: $59 million

Sport: Figure Skating

Yuna Kim began the 2010s by winning a gold medal for her home country of South Korea at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She was a strong favorite to win, having consistently medaled at events leading up to those Olympic Games.

She tied with snowboarder Shaun White as the top-earning athlete of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

In 2014, she took home the silver medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Retiring from professional figure skating in 2014, she managed to earn an estimated $59 million in prize money and endorsements in the 2010s.

8. Victória Azárenka

Image: Peter Menzel

Earnings: $52 million

Sport: Tennis

Victória Azárenka won Grand Slam titles two consecutive years at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013. She is the only Belarusian player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title.

She’s earned a whopping $30.4 million in prize money over her career. And in the 2010s, she earned an estimated $52 million from prize money and endorsements.

9. Ana Ivanović

Image: Vinod Divakaran

Earnings: $49.5 million

Sport: Tennis

Ana Ivanović competed professionally from 2003 to 2016, and won her first and only Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2008.

She earned $15.5 million in career prize money. Retiring in 2016, she earned an estimated $49.5 million from prize money and endorsements in the 2010s.

10. Agnieszka Radwańska

Image: Tatiana

Earnings: $48.2

Sport: Tennis

Agnieszka Radwańska began the 2010s by breaking into the top 10 rankings. She became the first Polish player to win the WTA Finals in 2015.

She’s earned $27.7 million in career prize money, and pulled in an estimated $48.2 million in prize money and endorsements in the 2010s.

11. Angelique Kerber

Image: Tatiana

Earnings: $42 million

Sport: Tennis

Angelique Kerber began the 2010s with a steady rise in the tennis world, eventually reaching the World No. 1 spot in 2016. She’s won three Grand Slam titles: the Australian Open and US Open in 2016, and Wimbledon in 2018.

She’s earned over $29.5 million in career prize money. In the 2010s, she pulled in an estimated $42 million in prize money and endorsements.

12. Garbiñe Muguruza

Image: si.robi

Earnings: $38.4 million

Sport: Tennis

Garbiñe Muguruza began her professional tennis career in 2012, and since then has won two Grand Slam titles: the French Open in 2016, and Wimbledon in 2017.

She’s earned over $20.8 million in prize money so far in her career. And in the 2010s, she brought in an estimated $38.4 million from endorsements and prize money combined.

13. Simona Halep

Image: Carine06

Earnings: $37.5 million

Sport: Tennis

Simona Halep reached the World No. 1 spot in 2017, becoming the first Romanian woman to ever to hold the No. 1 ranking. She kept the No. 1 spot for nearly an entire year.

She won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2018, and then again at Wimbledon in 2019.

She’s earned an impressive $36.6 million in prize money so far in her career. In the 2010s, she earned an estimated $37.5 million from endorsements and prize money.

14. Paula Creamer

Image: Felix Mendoza

Earnings: $35.5 million

Sport: Golf

Paula Creamer began the 2010s by winning the U.S. Women’s Open tournament. Nicknamed the “Pink Panther” due to her love of wearing pink, she earned endorsement contracts with companies like Adidas, TaylorMade, CDW, and SAP.

She’s earned $12.1 million in career prize money, which, as of the 2019 season, puts her in 10th place overall in career earnings in the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association). In the 2010s, she earned an estimated total of $35.5 million from endorsements and prize money.

15. Ronda Rousey

Image: Walt Disney Television

Earnings: $32.3 million

Sport: MMA

Ronda Rousey had an explosive MMA career, winning 12 fights and losing only 2 from 2010 to 2016. She took part in the first women’s fight in UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) history in 2013, and in 2018, she became the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

She earned an estimated $32.3 million from prize money and endorsements in the 2010s.

16. Naomi Osaka

Image: Rob Prange

Earnings: $29.3 million

Sport: Tennis

Naomi Osaka started her professional tennis career in 2013, and in 2016 was voted the WTA Newcomer of the Year. Considering that she was a “newcomer” so late in the decade, it’s incredible that she’s made this list of highest earners in the 2010s. She was born in 1997.

Osaka rose to fame when she won back-to-back Grand Slam titles in 2018 and 2019. She defeated Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open, and then grabbed her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2019.

She’s earned $14.6 million in prize money over her career so far. And she earned an estimated $29.3 million in the 2010s, with most of it coming in the last 12 months of the decade. This makes her just the 4th female athlete to earn $20 million in a year.

17. Sloane Stephens

Image: Tatiana

Earnings: $28.8 million

Sport: Tennis

Sloane Stephens rose to prominence after she upset then-world No. 3 Serena Williams on her way to the 2013 Wimbledon semifinals. She was just 19. In 2017, she won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open.

She’s earned $15.3 million in prize money over her career so far. And she pulled in an estimated $28.8 million from endorsements and prize money in the 2010s.

You may have noticed a trend…

Of the top 17 highest-paid female athletes of the last decade, 13 of them are are tennis players. Tennis continues to be the highest paying sport for female athletes, both in prize money and sponsorship and endorsement deals. And having watched a young player like Naomi Osaka start to earn serious prize money and huge endorsements, we suspect that trend will continue into the 2020s.

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