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Tennis player Maria Sharapova tops list of richest female athletes

WTA stars dominated the list of the world's 10 best-paid female athletes, Forbes magazine.

Plenty of endorsements help Maria Sharapova to the top of the list of earners for female athletes.
Plenty of endorsements help Maria Sharapova to the top of the list of earners for female athletes.

PARIS // Tennis stars dominated the list of the world's 10 best-paid female athletes, Forbes magazine said on Tuesday, but highlighted the yawning earnings gap with their male counterparts in most sports.

Russia's Maria Sharapova headed the list, published on forbes.com, earning an estimated total of US$29 million (Dh106.5m) between June 2012 and June this year.

Tennis took the top four positions, with the world No 1 Serena Williams of the United States second ($20.5m), China's Li Na third ($18.2m) and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus fourth ($15.7m).

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark was in seventh ($13.6m), followed by Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland ($7.4m) and Serbia's Ana Ivanovic ($7m).

Danica Patrick, the US race driver (fifth, $15m), the South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna (sixth, $14m)and the American golfer Paula Creamer (10th, $5.5m), were the only non-tennis stars in the top 10.

Forbes, a business magazine, said disparities remained between men and women in terms of earnings in sport.

The world No 1 golfer Tiger Woods, for example, was the highest-paid athlete on the planet with estimated earnings of $78m during the period surveyed.

The Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant will earn $30.5m next season, but the highest salary in the women's equivalent of the NBA is $107,000.

Park In-bee of South Korea won $585,000 for winning the women's US Open; the men's winner, Justin Rose, was awarded $1.4m, the magazine noted. Forbes said that there was increasing parity in terms of pay in tennis, after moves in recent years to put prize money on a more equal footing.

Endorsements that come on the back of grand slam wins, such as Sharapova's 2012 French Open title, dwarf the winnings of most players.

Sharapova, 26, earned $23m in endorsements with the sportswear manufacturers Head and Nike after her victory at Roland Garros. She has also launched her own brand of sweets, Sugarpova.

In Forbes' June 24 list of the world's 100 highest-paid athletes, the multiple tennis grand slam winner Roger Federer of Switzerland earned $71.5m, second only to Woods.

Sharapova, number 22 in the top 100 list, earned more than the current men's No 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia ($26.9m) and Spain's Rafael Nadal ($26.4m).

But in a sign of the ground to be made up, Williams's earnings were enough to place her 68th in the top 100, while Li Na was 85th. They, along with Sharapova, were the only women on the list.

Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid female athletes

1 Maria Sharapova, tennis US$29m

2 Serena Williams, tennis $20.5m

3 Li Na, tennis $18.2m

4 Victoria Azarenka, tennis $15.7m

5 Danica Patrick, motorsport $15m

6 Kim Yuna, figure skating $14m

7 Caroline Wozniacki, tennis $13.6m

8 Agnieszka Radwanska, tennis $7.4m

9 Ana Ivanovic, tennis $7m

10 Paula Creamer, golf $5.5m

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