Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams Ranked As Forbes’ Highest-Paid Female Athletes in 2021

Forbes 50 world’s highest paid athletes made approximately $2.8 billion in 12 months, with over 35% of total earnings coming from endorsement deals and activities beyond the field.

Tennis phenoms Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams topped the list of highest-paid female athletes in the world for a second year in a row.

Forbes reported income data obtained between May 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021. The data is divided into earnings on-the-field and off-the-field. On-the-field earnings include salaries, bonuses, and prize money. Forbes includes appearance fees, licensing income, endorsement deals, and equity stakes athletes have sold in off-the-field earnings.

Osaka, 23, earned $60 million in total earnings. Forbes estimates that Williams, 39, brought home $41.5 million. Less than 10% of their total income is earned on the court.

Naomi Osaka Tops List of Highest Paid Female Athletes

Total Annual Earnings: $60 million

Osaka has made headlines as the highest paid female athlete of 2021. The four-time Grand Slam winner ranks No.12 on Forbes top 50 sports stars list.

Forbes estimates that Osaka earned $5 million on the field. In September 2020, Osaka took home her third Grand Slam championship at the U.S. Open. The Associated Press named Osaka the 2020 Female Athlete of the Year. A few weeks later, Osaka claimed her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. She is the reigning champ for the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.

More than 90% of Osaka’s earnings comes from lucrative brand deals. She penned endorsement deals and partnerships with over 20 brands including Louis Vuitton, Levi’s, Tag Heuer, Nissan,  Beats by Dre, Mastercard. Nike may be her largest deal yet, leading to over $10 million a year from company sponsorships.

In 2020, Osaka earned $37.4 million. She was ranked as the highest paid athlete of the year ahead of Serena Williams. No female athlete has earned more than Osaka over the last two years.

Serena Williams Is Second Highest Paid Female Athlete

Total Annual Earnings: $41.5 million

At 39 years old, Serena Williams is still commanding top dollars on and off the field.

According to Forbes, Williams earned $41.5 million. She’s won 23 Grand Slam single titles and is one of the most popular female athletes in the world. Serena also serves on the board of Poshmark and Survey Monkey.

More than 95% of her earnings comes from deals off-the-field. Williams has landed deals with Intel, Chase, Lincoln, and other top brands. Nike has been a sponsor since 2003. Puma, Gatorade, and Pepsi have all sought out Williams as an endorsement partner in the past.

To add to her list of income streams, Williams penned a TV deal with Amazon Studies this spring. The deal includes a docuseries about her.

In 2020, Williams earned $36 million, with $32 million coming from endorsements and the rest from prize money. She was the world’s highest-paid female athlete in 2016, 2017, and 2018.


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