Tennis stars dominated the list of the world’s 10 best-paid female athletes, Forbes magazine said on Tuesday, but highlighted the yawning earnings gap with their male counterparts in most sports.
Russia’s Maria Sharapova headed the list, published on forbes.com, earning a total of $29 million (£18.9 million, 21.9 million euros) between June 2012 and June this year.
Tennis took the top four positions, with world number one Serena Williams of the United States second ($20.5 million), China’s Li Nathird ($18.2 million) and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus fourth ($15.7 million).
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark was in seventh ($13.6 million), followed by Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland ($7.4 million) and Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic ($7 million).
US Nascar driver Danica Patrick (fifth with $15 million), South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna (sixth with $14 million)and American golfer Paula Creamer (10th with $5.5 million), were the only non-tennis stars in the top 10.
But the business magazine said disparities remained between men and women in terms of earnings in sport.
World number one golfer Tiger Woods, for example, was the highest-paid athlete on the planet with earnings of $78 million in the 12 months between June 1, 2012 and June 1 this year.
Los Angeles Laker basketball star Kobe Bryant will earn $30.5 million next season but the highest salary in the women’s equivalent of the NBA is $107,000.
Park Inbee of South Korea won $585,000 for winning the women’s US Open but men’s winner Justin Rose was awarded $1.4 million, the magazine noted.
Forbes said that there was increasing parity in terms of pay in tennis, after moves in recent years to put prize money on a more equal footing.
Endorsements that come on the back of Grand Slam wins such as Sharapova’s 2012 French Open title dwarf most players’ winnings.
The 26-year-old, for example, earned $23 million in endorsements with sportswear manufacturers Head and Nike after her victory at Roland Garros.
She has also launched her own brand of sweets, Sugarpova.
Nevertheless, in Forbes’ June 24 list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes, multiple tennis Grand Slam winner Roger Federer of Switzerland earned $71.5 million, second only to Woods.
Sharapova, number 22 in the top 100 list, earned more than the current men’s number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia ($26.9 million) and Spain’s Rafael Nadal ($26.4 million).
But in a sign of the ground to be made up, Williams’ earnings were only enough to place her 68th in the top 100, while Li Na was 85th — and all three were the only women in the list.
Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid female athletes 2013:
1. Maria Sharapova (RUS), tennis, $29 million
2. Serena Williams (USA), tennis, $20.5 million
3. Li Na (CHN), tennis, $18.2 million
4. Victoria Azarenka (BLR), tennis, $15.7 million
5. Danica Patrick (USA), Nascar, $15 million
6. Kim Yuna (KOR), figure skating, $14 million
7. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN), tennis, $13.6 million
8. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), tennis, $7.4 million
9. Ana Ivanovic (SRB), tennis, $7 million
10. Paula Creamer (USA), golf, $5.5 million.