Sharapova tops list of highest-paid female athletes

Sharapova tops list of highest-paid female athletes

PanARMENIAN.Net - Women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in the U.S., according to data from the Census Bureau. The pay gap is even worse in the world of sports. The maximum salary in the WNBA is $107,000. Kobe Bryant will earn $30.5 million from the Los Angeles Lakers next season, The Forbes says.

Inbee Park won $585,000 for her 2013 U.S. Open golf title. The men’s winner, Justin Rose, pocketed $1.4 million for his victory. Park is having a golf season for the ages and could pocket $5 million from prize money and endorsements in 2013. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods reigns as the world’s highest-paid athlete with earnings of $78 million.

The income difference derives from the gap in revenues generated by the stars of these sports, but there is one major sport where men and women compete on equal footing: tennis. A pay disparity existed in tennis for decades as women received smaller payouts at the French Open and Wimbledon, but Venus Williams led a campaign for equal pay and the two majors changed their policies in 2007. The highest-paid tennis players are now equally split between men and women.

So when it comes to the world’s 10 highest-paid female athletes, tennis players dominant the list, grabbing seven spots, The Forbes says. Maria Sharapova is on top for the ninth straight year with $29 million in earnings from prize money, endorsements and appearance fees between June 2012 and June 2013. The Russian-born Sharapova leads a globe-spanning list with eight different nationalities represented in the top 10.

Sharapova’s earnings power skyrocketed in 2004 when she won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old. Companies flocked to the 6-foot-2-inch blond beauty with multimillion dollar endorsement deals. Today she counts Nike, Head, Samsung Electronics, Tag Heuer and Evian as sponsors. She added a three-year deal with Porsche in April. Her French Open win in 2012, which gave her a career Grand Slam, triggered lucrative bonuses with sponsors.

Sharapova is looking beyond tennis with her latest venture: She launched a candy business, Sugarpova, in 2012 with her own money. The gummy candies are now available in 15 countries and the company expects to sell 1.5 million bags of candy in the first 12 months at $5 to $6 a bag. Sharapova is plowing any profits back into the company and hopes to expand into areas like fashion, accessories and make-up.

Serena Williams ranks second with earnings of $20.5 million, which includes $8.5 million in prize money and $12 million from sponsors Nike, Wilson, Gatorade and OPI, according to the Forbes.

China’s Li Na makes for a clean sweep of the top three from the world of tennis. She earned an estimated $18.2 million, including $3.2 million in prize money.

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