Whether you were born into a family of sports obsessives or became a spots fan later in life, you’re probably already across the exuberant amounts of money that can be earned in the sporting world—and yes, it’s a lot.
Now, Forbes has released its list of the 10 highest paid female athletes for 2021, and this year, the top earning females scored a combined total earning of AUD $231.6 million—which is 23 percent higher than their 2020 calculations.
Of this year’s top 10, there was a clear dominance in earnings when it came to tennis, which feels like perfect timing with the 2022 Australian Open underway (sans Novak Djokovic, of course). Out of the top female athletes, five of them are world-renowned tennis players, from Serena and Venus Williams to Australia’s own Ash Barty.To find out who nabbed the top spots, scroll down to see the 10 highest-paid female athletes for 2022, according to Forbes.
10. Candace Parker
Earnings: AUD $7.9 million
Fresh off a Women’s NBA championship run, Forbes states that she takes home an earning of AUD $7.9 million every year, and it’s mostly thanks to endorsements. The publication states that since the basketball league caps players’ salaries at around AUD $277,000, Parker makes most of her income from partnering with brands like Adidas, Band-Aid, Capital One and CarMax.
9. Nelly Korda
Earnings: AUD $8.2 million
Professional golfer, Nelly Korda, scored her first major title at the Women’s PGA Championship in June, won Olympic gold in August and wrapped up 2021 as the highest-ranking female golfer, earning AUD $8.2 million. At just 23 years old, Korda was among Forbes’ 2022 30 Under 30 list within the sports category, and additionally has more than ten sponsors, such as Hanwha Q Cells—which manufacture solar cells—and UKG, a tech company focused on workforce management.
8. Ashleigh Barty
Earnings: AUD $9.6 million
Australian tennis player—and national icon—Ash Barty comes in at eighth position on the list. Ranking as World No.1 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association, the 25-year-old earns AUD $9.6 million annually, according to Forbes. While that sum is hefty, the gender pay gap was made clear after her win at the Western & Southern Open in August that saw her earn AUD $353,775 for her victory, while men’s champion Alexander Zverev, took home AUD $907,726
As for the upcoming Australian Open in 2022—starting on January 10 and ending January 19—Barty is tipped to take out the grand slam after triumphant wins at both Wimbledon and Roland Garros last year. Since she is yet to win her home slam, she could become the first Australian woman to do so since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
7. P.V. Sindhu
Earnings: AUD $9.9 million
When it comes to Australia, P.V. Sindhu may be relatively unknown in the sports industry. However, in India, the 26-year-old badminton champion is a superstar. Having scored a spot on this same list in 2018, Forbes states that Sindhu earns AUD $9.9 million a year.
Back at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Sindhu left with a silver medal under her belt, and last year’s Tokyo Olympics saw her nab bronze. She also became the first Indian woman with two Olympic medals and has four sponsors contributing to her income, including tech giant Byju’s, used-car platform Spinny, Li-Ning sportswear and India’s Bank of Baroda.
6. Jin Young Ko
Earnings: AUD $10.4 million
Despite losing her top spot in women’s golf rankings to Nelly Korda, the 26-year-old South Korean pro-golfer earned herself a pretty penny with her win in the CME Group Tour Championship in November 2021, that saw her pick up AUD $2 million. Along with her generous prize money, Ko counts on sponsorships from South Korean companies, including LG Electronics, Korean Air, Jeju SamDaSoo mineral water and Rejuran skincare products.
5. Garbiñe Muguruza
Earnings: AUD $10.8 million
With a runner-up finish at the 2022 Australian Open, Garbiñe Muguruza won three tournaments in 2021 and climbed to the third position in women’s tennis rankings. As a result, the 28-year-old Spanish star saw a significant increase in sponsor bonuses, from Jaguar and Nivea to Adidas and Babolat, leaving her with an annual earning of AUD $10.8 million.
As for the Australian Open in 2022, Muguruza has been vocal about what will take place, but not so much about her chance to win the title. In fact, her attention has been on Chinese player, Peng Shuai, who went missing after accusing vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. It left many, like Muguruza, fearing for her safety ahead of the tournament.
4. Simone Biles
Earnings: AUD $14 million
American gymnastics champion Simone Biles withdrew from five events in Tokyo 2021, putting her mental health first. We both applaud this and take pleasure in reporting that it didn’t put a dent in her earnings last year, with the 24-year-old becoming the fourth highest earning female athlete in 2021. She earned AUD $14 million last year, thanks to a series of brand deals, including working with Autograph to release NFTs in August and she joined mental-health startup Cerebral as “chief impact officer” in October.
Additionally, she became the face of a cross-country post-Olympics gymnastics tour, the Gold Over America Tour, with its initials spelling GOAT—a term the world has loved to call her, as the sport’s greatest of all-time.
3. Venus Williams
Earnings: AUD $15.6 million
Despite playing nine tournaments and winning only three matches in 2021, Venus Williams’ income hasn’t suffered all that much. After all, she’s landed the third spot and earned AUD $15.6 million in the process. Focusing more on her celebrity influence, the 41-year-old makes appearances and gives keynote speeches, while running her own apparel brand, EleVen. Much like her sister Serena, she was an executive producer on the upcoming biopic about their lives, titled King Richard.
As for the Australian Open, tennis fans will have to deal with the loss of Venus who plans to skip this year’s tournament.
2. Serena Williams
Earnings: AUD $63.6 million
One of the greatest and most notable tennis players of all time, Serena Williams takes out runner-up with a yearly earning of AUD $63.6 million. The 40-year-old sports star may have dropped to 41st in the women’s rankings, but she’s still a huge pull for advertisers, working with brands like Nike, Gatorade and DirecTV. Like Venus Williams, she was also an executive producer on the 2021 film King Richard, which follows their father’s involvement in building their careers. Additionally, she has investments in more than 60 startups through her firm, Serena Ventures.
In a rare turn of events, Serena has confirmed that she, like her sister Venus, will not be competing in this year’s Australian Open tournament—the first time that the sister’s won’t appear at the Melbourne tournament since 1997—because “I am not where I need to be physically to compete”, as per Forbes.
1. Naomi Osaka
Earnings: AUD $79.4 million
A surprise to not so many, Japanese-American tennis player Naomi Osaka earned her annual AUD $79.4 million from an endorsement portfolio including over ten brand partners, like Louis Vuitton, Sweetgreen and Tag Heuer. The 24-year-old has recently picked up equity stakes in VR startup, StatusPRO, as well as plant-based-chicken maker, Daring Foods, and launched a skincare line called Kinlò.
Hoping to score a second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open—and perhaps another blessing from a butterfly—tennis fans can expect to see Naomi serve while she’s down under for the tournament.