Women’s Sports: Serena Williams is the only female in this decade's 40 highest-paid athletes

2019 US Open - Day 13

Serena Williams, the sole representative in a list of the most profitable athletes this decade, is not only fighting a lone fight for women’s sport, but continues to be under-appreciated herself.

Renowned magazine Forbes published statistics documenting the highest paid sportspeople from January 1, 2010, to the present day with Floyd Mayweather topping the list having earned a staggering $915 million.

Williams - who boasts lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, Gatorade and Beats - has earned an estimated $215 million, but is the only female athlete to be included in the top 40, falling some $200 million off the top ten.

In a decade where women’s sport has ostensibly gone from strength to strength, to see this list not only so male-dominated, but also heavily inflated in terms of the biggest earners is no doubt another kick in the teeth on the road to equality.

In 2019 alone, Williams ranked as the only women inside the top 100 athlete earners, sitting at a measly 63rd. The year before that, no female athletes made the list.

Williams alone in the top 40

The comparisons between male and female athletes for each respective sport is also astounding.

Williams may rank as the highest paid female athlete by some distance, but Roger Federer, who is fifth on Forbes list, has earned almost triple this decade at around $640 million.

This disparity is further heightened when you consider that female tennis players are actually paid better than in any other sport.

2019 US Open - Day 13

Money in women's sport

This year, 12 of Forbes top 15 best paid sportswomen were tennis players, with footballer Alex Morgan, golfer Ariya Jutanugarn and badminton player P.V Sindhu the only others to make the cut.

Why do tennis players earn more then? The answer is likely related to prize money, where men and women now earn equal sums for winning the major grand slams, since Williams herself campaigned for it.

When looking at other sports though, the issue is only further compounded.

Forbes estimate US national team star Alex Morgan to earn a yearly salary of around $250,000, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus contract sees him pocket €31 million annually.

This is not to say that one of the world’s best ever footballers is not worthy of such a substantial sum of money, but rather to highlight that the lack of exposure and marketing of women’s sport is stopping female athletes from demanding a salary in line with their actual talent. 


Does equality mean there should be 20 women on Forbes list? Absolutely not.

Some athletes will win more, generate more sponsors and ultimately be more deserving.

Yet, the gap between the top male athletes compared to their women counterparts remains unacceptable. Women’s sport may be growing, but it has not reached its high watermark just yet.

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