Professional sport’s highest earning athletes are males, but the ladies do quite well for themselves, too. Tennis and golf are the top two sports played by the richest female athletes. The huge prize winnings up for grabs at top level golf and tennis tournaments are the primary reason for this, but the sports themselves have traditionally been closely tied to the realm of the wealthy.
The richest female athletes aren’t just incredibly skilled, they’re typically smart businesswomen as well. Cash prizes comprise a portion of their net worths, while a significant part is made up of side ventures and highly lucrative endorsements. World renowned companies in a range of different industries clamor to have them associated with their brands, and collectively, these companies spend billions of dollars to get these famous athletes to be their spokeswomen.
Here are the 20 richest female athletes in 2016.
1. Yani Tseng – $6.1 million
Yani Tseng (pictured on the left), the star golfer from Taiwan, is the youngest athlete in the sport of any gender to win five major championships. For 109 weeks straight between 2011 and 2013, she was ranked the number one female golfer in the world. In 2.5 years she’s racked up 20 wins and at only 25 years old she’s very close to earning her way into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
2. Agnieszka Radwanska – $6.9 million
Agnieszka Radwanska is currently one of the top ranked players in the Women’s Tennis Association. By 25 years old she had won 14 career singles titles, and she’s the first Polish tennis player in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam final. Agnieszka Radwanska’s sponsors include sports equipment company Babolat and Lexus.
3. Cristie Kerr – $7 million
Cristie Kerr (pictured on the right) is one of the world’s richest female athletes with impressive career earnings that top $15 million. Kerr became a golf pro in 1996, and since then she’s won the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open, 2010 LPGA Championship, and 16 LPGA Tour victories. She was the top ranked female golfer in the world three times during 2010.
4. Inbee Park – $7.9 million
South Korea’s Inbee Park was the No. 1 female golfer in the world from April 15, 2013 until June 1,2014. She’s won five major championships, three consecutive majors in 2013, and is just the fourth LPGA player to win three majors in one year. Inbee Park has the distinction of being the youngest golfer to win the U.S. Women’s Open.
5. Paula Creamer – $8 million
Call her Paula Creamer or The Pink Panther, but this golfer has serious game that has made her one of the richest female athletes around. She’s the second youngest golfer to win an event in LPGA history, and she’s won 12 professional championships. Ten of those wins were during the LPGA Tour. She earns millions from endorsements each year and is partnered with companies including Citizen, Adidas, and Bridgestone Golf.
6. Victoria Azarenka – $11.1 million
Belarusian tennis pro Victoria Azarenka was the top ranked player in the sport in 2012. She was the first tennis player from Belarus to win a Grand Slam singles title, and she won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013. During the 2012 London Olympics Victoria Azarenka earned a bronze medal. She’s still earning plenty of prize money, but she also has big endorsements with Nike and other companies.
7. Ana Ivanovic – $12 million
Ana Ivanovic has experienced a range of highs and lows in her tennis career. The Serbian star athlete was the top player in the world at one time, and then she slid down to the No. 64 position in 2010. She’s since regained steam and made a comeback to be in the top 10. Thanks to her contract with Adidas, Ana Ivanovic has the most profitable apparel and shoe endorsement deal in the world of women’s tennis.
8. Jelena Jankovic – $15 million
After her showing in the 2008 US Open finals, Jelena Jankovic became the No. 1 singles player in the world. The Serbian athlete is from a family of excellent players, and her brother, Marko, is her coach. In addition to the US Open in 2008, Jelena Jankovic has won the 2007 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles, 2007 and 2008 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and the BNP Paribas Open in 2010. A documentary called Jelena’s World was released about her in 2008. She’s currently sponsored by Fila.
9. Karrie Webb – $15 million
Karrie Webb is one of the richest female athletes and she also has one of the longest careers in professional golf. She got her professional start in 1996, and in the two decades since she’s won 56 pro championships, 41 of which were on the LPGA Tour — that’s more wins than any other active golf player. The World Golf Hall of Fame member is a legend in the game and is one of the best female athletes in the history of golf. Karrie Webb has won over $19.73 million during her career.
10. Lorena Ochoa – $15 million
It’s easy to see why Lorena Ochoa is considered to be the best golfer from Mexico of all time. From April 2007 until May 2010, she was the top female athlete in the sport. Ochoa played on the LPGA Tour for seven years, from 2003 to 2010. Her success has lead to the creation of her family’s sports management agency, Ochoa Sports Management.
The family also runs Ochoa Golf Academies and the Ochoa Group, which has added to her yearly income. A big chunk of Lorena Ochoa’s wealth comes from endorsements from Rolex, Audi, Ping, Callaway, Lacoste, and many other brands. She retired in 2010 after marrying the CEO of Mexican airline Aeromexico, Andres Conesa, so they could start a family.
11. Danica Patrick – $18 million
Danica Patrick is known as the most financially successful woman in the history of US racing. In 2008, she became the first womaen to win an IndyCar Series race. Danica Patrick wears many hats outside of racing, including model and spokeswoman. She’s famously linked with the GoDaddy empire and also has endorsements with Sega and Coke Zero. In addition, Danica has had a number of television and award show hosting gigs.
12. Lindsay Davenport $20 million
Lindsay Davenport has had a wildly successful professional tennis career and is one of the richest female athletes, winning over $22 million in prize money. She won an Olympic gold medal in singles, and also has three Glam Slam singles victories under her belt. She was the No. 1 ranked tennis player eight times, for 98 weeks in total. In 2014, Lindsay Davenport received the high honor of being indicted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She’s unofficially retired, but Davenport keeps earning big money through speaking engagements and appearances.
13. Caroline Wozniacki – $20 million
Caroline Wozniacki is a highly successful tennis pro that’s ranked in the top 10 players worldwide. For 67 consecutive weeks from 2009 to 2010, she held the No. 1 rank, and she’s also the first Scandinavian native to be a top ranked tennis player. Her more than $20 million in career earnings is impressive, but she also earns several million each year from endorsements with Sony, Yonex, Proactiv, Rolex, and other global brands.
14. Kim Yuna – $21 million
The world can largely thank Kim Yuna for bringing the 2018 Winter Olympics to South Korea. Because Yuna, a South Korean native, has had such an electric career in figure skating, having the next Winter games there was a perfect fit. She won a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and is the reigning women’s free skating record holder. Kim Yuna has broken 11 world record scores, was the 2010 Vancouver Olympic ladies singles champion, and she’s only 25 years old.
Her list of accolades and awards is super long, which is why she’s one of the richest female athletes of today. Kim Yuna has also dabbled into singing, she has her own sports agency, is a published author, and she also has major endorsement deals with Nike, Samsung, Hyundai, Korean Air, and other companies.
15. Annika Sorenstam – $40 million
One of the most successful female golfers in the history of the sport is Annika Sorenstam. She has career earnings in excess of $22 million, has won eight Player of the Year awards, is the only female golfer ever to shoot a 59 during a competition, and then there was her historic appearance at the 2003 Bank of America Colonial. There, Annika Sorenstam became the first woman since 1945 to play in a PGA Tour event.
Though Sorenstam has huge winnings and lucrative endorsements, she’s made a ton with her own business endeavors, many of which are under the brand ANNIKA. She’s made millions designing golf courses, establishing golf academies, and launching clothing and fragrance lines.
16. Li Na – $40 million
When Li Na came onto the pro tennis scene, few knew she would take the sport by storm like she did. She’s not just good, Li Na is one of the best female tennis players to ever hit the court. The Chinese star athlete is the first and only player from Asia to become a Grand Slam singles champ. Li Na gained this distinction during the 2011 French Open, and after that the endorsement deals came pouring in from companies including Samsung and Mercedes-Benz. Her career high ranking is No. 2, which she achieved on the WTA Tour on February 17, 2014.
17. Anna Kournikova – $50 million
Few people haven’t heard of the name Anna Kournikova, even those who know little to nothing about tennis. She had great success with her partner Martina Hingis, and the duo called themselves the “Spice Girls of Tennis”. With Hingis, Anna Kournikova was No. 2 worldwide in doubles, and they won Grand Slam titles in 1999 and 2002. Even though Kournikova was forced to retire from tennis at the age of 21 due to severe problems with her back and spine, she never stepped away from the spotlight.
The Russian tennis star first gained fame for her talent, but she has also been widely recognized for her beauty. Anna Kournikova has made several movie and television appearances, and was featured as a trainer on season 12 of the hit show The Biggest Loser, replacing Jillian Michaels. She has many philanthropic endeavors and has had a huge influence on pop culture.
18. Venus Williams – $75 million
Venus Williams is known for many things, including being an incredible tennis player and entrepreneur. When she and her younger sister, Serena, stepped onto the tennis scene when they were teens they brought a whole new level of athleticism to the sport. Venus became the first African American woman to reach the No. 1 rank on February 25, 2002, and she’s earned over $32 million in prize winnings during her career. Seven Grand Slam titles, dazzling appearances at Wimbledon, and an impressive list of awards and championships have made Venus Williams one of the most successful female athletes in any sport.
She’s also one of the richest female athletes. The more than $32 million Venus has earned in prize money seems small in comparison to the money that the tennis star has made from endorsements and business ventures. The degreed fashion designer has an interior design firm, her own clothing line, is a best-selling author, and she and her sister, Serena, are part-owners of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
19. Maria Sharapova – $90 million
Maria Sharapova used to have the distinction of being the richest female athlete in the world for over a decade. She has also been one of the most successful on the tennis courts, but that was until the Russian born star ran into major trouble that sidelined her career for at least two years. She was recently caught in a scandal involving doping, causing many to question her performances and wins over the years. Maria Sharapova used to be a darling in the tennis world, but she’s now under fire due to her steroid use admission. Still, that hasn’t stopped her from being one of the richest athletes of any gender.
20. Serena Williams – $120 million
Serena Williams needs no introduction, her talent is undeniable, and there’s seemingly nothing that she can’t conquer. Serena has shown us all how to overcome doubts and adversity, and she has steamrolled over every barrier that’s ever stood in her way. Serena is currently the No. 1 ranked women’s singles player, and she’s held the top spot during six different periods. The list of philanthropic awards, Grand Slam titles, Olympic gold medals, and sponsorship deals that she’s racked up since entering professional tennis is massive and beyond impressive — that’s why Serena Williams is the richest female athlete on the planet.