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New Records For Highest-Paid Female Athletes For 2021


Forbes has released its ranking for the highest-paid female athletes for 2021, with the top ten recording combined earnings of USD$167 million (AUD$229.7 million), an increase of 23% over the 2020 rankings.

Topping the rankings is tennis star, Naomi Osaka, who brought in USD$57.3 million (AUD$78.8 million) in 2021, ranking as a new single-year record for women athletes, beating out her own record, which was previously set in 2020, as tennis continues to dominate the rankings, holding five of the top ten positions on the list.

In the most recent highest-paid athletes ranking from Forbes which covered the period from 1 May 2020 to 1 May 2021, Osaka ranked in 12th place, and was joined by only Serena Williams as the only women to make the top 50 rankings.

Notably, other sports have begun competing with tennis, after female tennis stars claimed all ten positions on the list in 2019, which takes into account on-field earnings such as base salaries, bonuses, stipends and prize money, combined with off-field earnings such as endorsements, licensing, appearances, and memorabilia.

In the report from Forbes, the publication suggests while the threshold for the top ten has dropped within the past 10 years, the new investment and sponsorship opportunities in women’s sports has caused earnings to be spread across more athletes and more competitions.

This has been reflected in the rankings in recent years with sports besides tennis finding their way into the rankings more and more, highlighted in the 2021 rankings with the inclusion of US Olympic gymnast, Simone Biles in fourth place with USD$10.1 million (AUD$13.9 million) annual earnings, South Korean golf star, Jin Young Ko in sixth place with USD$7.5 million (AUD$10.3 million) annual earnings, Indian badminton star, P.V. Sindhu with USD$7.2 million (AUD$9.9 million) annual earnings, US golf star, Nelly Korda with USD$5.9 million (AUD$8.1 million) annual earnings, US basketball star, and Candace Parker with USD$5.7 million (AUD$7.8 million) annual earnings.

Discussing the shift in sponsorship spend in women’s sport in recent years, recently retired US women’s soccer athlete, Carli Lloyd, said: “Now it’s way different.”

“Whether it’s a [social media] post players are making to get paid or whether they’re signing endorsement deals, it’s a good space to come into, and it obviously occurred because of all the former players that had come prior,” Lloyd said.

In second place in the rankings is Serena Williams with total 2021 earnings of USD$45.9 million (AUD$63.1 million), followed by Venus Williams with earnings totalling USD$11.3 million (AUD$15.5 million), Garbine Muguruza in fifth place with USD$8.8 million (AUD$12.1 million) earnings, and Ash Barty in eighth place with USD$6.9 million (AUD$9.5 million) annual earnings.

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