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Top 5 Highest-Paid Female Athletes of 2016

20-01-2017 - Serena Williams - BPI Icon Sport

Athletes’ pay was once again a hot media topic this week, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn proposing a cap on earnings, and Carlos Tevez signing a mouth-watering deal with the Chinese Super League just before it put a three-a-team cap on foreign players.

As always, the debate focuses on male players’ cash, from football and boxing to baseball and basketball. But what about the girls?

While it’s true that male athletes earn much more than females, mostly due to the fact that most big professional sports – tennis apart – are male dominated, several of their female counterparts aren’t lagging too far behind.

Forbes has listed the the highest-earning female athletes in 2016, based on salary, prize money, endorsements, media appearances and licensing – and these girls are really bringing home the bacon.

Here’s our round-up of the top 5:

Serena Williams

Total Earnings $28.9 million

Prize money: $8.9 million

Endorsements: $20 million

Topping the list is tennis’ tour de force, Williams. With 3 Grand Slam titles under her belt in 2015 alone, the 34 year old is still widely considered to be the most dominant player in women’s tennis. She had a particularly fruitful year thanks largely to a massive $20 million earned in endorsements for a range of multinationals including Nike, Pepsi and J.P Morgan Chase.

Maria Sharapova

Total earnings: $21.9 million

Prize money: $1.9 million

Endorsements: $20 million

This year marks the first in over a decade that tennis’ golden girl has not topped the list, knocked off the top spot by a series of injuries as well as a huge scandal following a failed drug test at the Australian Open in January, which lead Nike and Porsche to suspend endorsement agreements with the 29 year old five-time Grand Slam winner. But she’s back in action in April.

Ronda Rousey

Total earnings: $14 million

Purses/bonuses: $10 million

Endorsements: $4 million

The trained mixed martial artist, former UFV Bantamweight Champion and actress took home a whopping $14 million last year, despite a loss to Holly Holm in November. A female powerhouse in some very male-dominated fields, this 29-year old is best known for her prowess in the ring, but she’s also taken the movie world by storm, appearing in high profile films like Furious 7 (2015). In 2103 she became the third most Googled person.

A photo posted by rondarousey (@rondarousey) on

Danica Patrick

Total earnings: $13.9 million

Salary/winning: $7.9 million

Endorsements: $6 million

The American driver of the No.10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in NASCAR’s top-series has been gearing up for the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series by launching her very own clothing line, “Warrior by Danica”. Despite losing her primary sponsorship with GoDaddy, last August, Patrick signed a multi-year extension with Nature’s Bakery to drive for Stewart-Haas.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Total earnings: $10.2 million

Prize money:  $5.2 million

Endorsements: $5 million

This Polish tennis star is now the second ranked female player, bagging three big events last year, including the WTA Final. She now has a whopping $23 million in career prize money, and boasts a string of impressive endorsement partners including Lexus, Lotto and Babolat.

A photo posted by Aga Radwanska (@aradwanska) on

Words by Georgina Barnard