x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Serena Williams reigns on court, but Maria Sharapova has the edge in endorsements

According to Forbes magazine's annual list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, Serena Williams has the lowest endorsement portfolio among the six tennis players on that roll.

Maria Sharapova, right, congratulates Serena Williams on winning their women's singles final at the Madrid Masters on May 12, 2013. Javier Sorano / AFPA
Maria Sharapova, right, congratulates Serena Williams on winning their women's singles final at the Madrid Masters on May 12, 2013. Javier Sorano / AFPA

Over the past 12 months, Serena Williams has been the queen of women’s tennis, winning three of the four grand slams and gold at the 2012 London Olympics. She is 74-3 and has won 11 titles since losing in the first round of the 2012 French Open.

Yet, if you look at Forbes magazine’s annual list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, she has the lowest endorsement portfolio among the six tennis players on that roll. Maria Sharapova, who lost five finals to Williams over the past year, earns almost double in endorsements. The Russian earned US$23 million (Dh84.4m) between June 1, 2012 and June 1, 2013. Williams made $12m during that period.

Even Li Na made more than Williams in endorsements, $15m of her total earnings of $18.5m. The Chinese star made more than the men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic ($14m), as well.

The top tennis player on the list was Roger Federer with earnings of $71.5m, including $45m in endorsements. He is No 2 on the list, behind the world No 1 golfer Tiger Woods ($78.1m). Sharapova is at No 22, Djokovic at 28, Rafael Nadal at 30, Williams at 68 and Li Na at 85.

Nadal, who missed seven months of the period through injury, earned $21m in endorsements. This means Djokovic, for all his exploits on the court, still ranks below the Swiss and the Spaniard when it comes to marketability.

The good part: there are only three women in the top 100 and all three of them are tennis players. The WTA, celebrating its 40th year, will be proud to see that.

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