Naomi Osaka burst on the scene 12 months ago with a memorable run to the U.S. Open title. She added a second straight Grand Slam four months later at the Australian Open, securing the crown of the world’s No. 1 player at 21 years old. Osaka made history with the Aussie win as the first singles player from Asia, male or female, to reach the top spot in the rankings.
But staying at the top presents a new set of challenges when off-court opportunities abound and every player is gunning for you. For some guidance on navigating this tricky course, Osaka recently turned to an athlete who stayed at the pinnacle of his sport for two decades.
“Night after night, people would try to knock Kobe down, but he was so consistently great. That’s what I’m trying to learn from him,” Osaka says via e-mail about the 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time champion Kobe Bryant, who, like Osaka, falls under the Endeavor agency umbrella.
Osaka wants to follow Bryant’s lead off the court, too, playing the long game. She’s inked a series of blockbuster endorsement deals since her Flushing Meadow victory that could net her $30 million in 2019, but she is laying the foundation for a business beyond just collecting piles of cash for photo shoots.
A trio of companies announced partnerships with Osaka this week in BodyArmor, Hyperice and Muzik. The deals will barely budge her endorsement earnings this year, but she received equity stakes in all three emerging companies. “I’m really interested in seeing a young business grow and adding value to that process,” she says. “I tasked my team with finding brands that align with my personality and my interests.”
Athletes once often waited until late in their careers or even retirement to launch their next act, but global stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant increasingly are striking while the iron is hot, investing and launching businesses while still at their peak.
Osaka has accelerated that curve at an age when her peers are just taking their first legal sips of alcohol. “I want to take an interest in my business now and not wait until the end of my career. Kobe is one of the best to learn from in so many ways,” she says.
Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father, checks all the boxes for marketers. She’s young, accomplished and multicultural, with a soaring social media following. That helped her score the No. 2 spot on Forbes‘ 2019 list of the world’s highest-paid female athletes with $24.3 million, behind Serena Williams ($29.2 million).
Muzik founder and CEO Jason Hardi calls Osaka a triple threat for her talent, design capabilities and philanthropic interests. She worked with Muzik, the “smartphone of headphones” company, to design a new set of headphones that launches today. Osaka will receive royalties on the product, in addition to her equity stake.
Muzik counts Chris Paul, Cardi B, Offset, Paul George and Von Miller among its investors and ambassadors, but the Osaka product is the first celebrity signature line for the company. “We’ve been waiting for the right time and right person. She really cares about design,” says Hardi.
The increased power and speed in tennis have made recovery a critical consideration for top players, and Osaka has used Hyperice’s line of recovery and movement products for a couple of years to aid her ability to bounce back after a match. She says the products are everywhere in the tennis locker room. She was a natural when CEO Jim Huether wanted an athlete to help globalize his company’s mission “to create healthier humans.”
The $64 million-in-revenue company wants to expand its international presence, which currently represents 30% of the business. Hyperice launched marketing campaigns in Japan and the U.S. this week featuring Osaka as part of a multi-year deal. Osaka, who was raised in the U.S. but represents Japan in international competitions, is expected to be one of the faces of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, and the company is already mapping out marketing plans around the Games.
“We always look for athletes who are a little entrepreneurial. It creates more authenticity with the brand,” says Huether.
Sports drink BodyArmor is Osaka’s third new partner ahead of the U.S. Open, which starts Monday and will feature Osaka as the top seed on the women’s side. She was introduced to the brand by Bryant, the third-largest stakeholder in the company after founder Mike Repole and Coca-Cola.
Bryant originally invested roughly $5 million in the company in 2013 for a 10% stake. Coca-Cola’s $300 million investment last year pushed the value of Bryant’s piece to $200 million. The company, which is on target for $700 million in retail sales in 2019, wants to surpass market-leader Gatorade by 2025.
“Naomi is a fierce competitor, something I can certainly relate to, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to the BodyArmor team,” says Bryant.
“I know she’ll show the same type of passion off the court helping BodyArmor become the No. 1 sports drink as she did on the court becoming the No. 1 women’s tennis player.”
Osaka was crowned the “world’s most marketable athlete” this week in SportsPro Magazine’s annual top 50 list. Her bevy of endorsement partners like Nissan, Citizen, Shiseido, Nissin, MasterCard and Procter & Gamble would agree.
But no company is as important to Osaka’s brand and bank account as Nike, which pays her an estimated $10 million a year under the new pact. Her partnership with the sportswear giant was announced in April after a fierce bidding war with Adidas. Nike offered a rare exemption in the deal, allowing Osaka to wear the logos of other companies on her tennis apparel—lucrative real estate for elite players. China’s Li Na is the only other player granted the exemption: not Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe or any other current or former Nike athlete.
Nike unveiled a collaboration with Japanese designer brand Sacai for an 11-piece collection ahead of the Open. Osaka will have her own Nike logo and athleisure line starting in 2020.
Osaka says the coming months will include a collaboration with a Japanese fashion brand and a project with LeBron and his business partner Maverick Carter. “I want to do things my way and not follow what has been done in the past,” says Osaka, “I know I’m in a privileged position, so the main thing is to enjoy it all … and that means working with partners that I truly like.”
-Kurt Badenhausen; Forbes
The Eight Balls That Changed A Life
A chance shot at a pool table provided an outlet for a seven-year-old diagnosed with ADHD, who would go on to dominate the sport and raise the flag high for Africa.
Pool tables are typically known to be convivial centerpieces at smoky beer parlors and pubs, a space where guzzlers, mostly male, are baptized as swaggering adults.
However, Amy-Claire King, defying all stereotypes, was introduced to this space a lot earlier in life.
King, born in Boksburg in the East Rand of Johannesburg, South Africa, started playing pool at the age of seven – at a time when even the pool cue was taller than she was. But it did not take long for her to take full control of it.
She traveled to her first world championship at the age of 13 in Australia and has not looked back since.
The journey started when she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was prescribed Ritalin.
Her mother strongly disagreed. Luckily, an outlet and avenue of opportunity was about to present itself.
“One day, we (King and her mother) went to a braai (barbeque) and there was a pool table with all the pool players. They saw me play, they spoke to my mom, and I was in. So I was introduced to the sport by my mother’s friends who played pool,” she says.
Subsequently, the seven-year-old went for coaching with one of the top female players and has kept her eye on the ball since. King had her attention focused on the precision of maximizing every shot, and as a result, all talk of ADHD dissipated with time.
Armando Jeronimo, a former pool league player in the prime precincts of Gauteng, South Africa, and currently a social golfer, has had a keen interest in seeing King succeed.
“I met Amy when she was a child learning how to play pool. At the time, I was a league player and would be practising at Planet Pool, in the east of Johannesburg. I could see that she was a naturally talented person, just from the way she stood and walked around the pool table, one could just pick that up as a professional player; it’s like seeing a youngster with a football on his feet,” says Jeronimo.
King did not think at the time that she would take up pool as one of her careers, going on to represent her hometown and Africa globally.
But despite her achievements, there are challenges sustaining a sport that does not enjoy mass collective and commercial support.
“It’s not fully professional, everybody still has a regular job; we’re still human beings outside our sport, unfortunately, we wish we could do it full-time,” says King.
However, to become a professional player, one has to join the local league and it can assist with guiding the progression.
After a year of being in the league, players will need to qualify for regional trials and then move on to the South African championships where they compete with other provinces and finish top five to qualify for the national South African team.
But while her star was rising, King lost the one person who had given her unconditional support – her mother.
“It has been really rough; I am left with my little brother and daughter. My mother was diagnosed with cancer about three and half years ago, and I didn’t really feature [in the sport]. I was still making the South Africa team but didn’t go to the championships for two years because I had just got my daughter, and the time that my mom was sick.
“My mom went into remission and everything was getting better, my pool was getting better. Six months later, she started getting headaches and they found three tumours in her brain. They told us six to 18 months to live, but it was 10 weeks,” says a reflective King.
Needless to say, pool was no longer her priority. The other areas of her life were also affected.
“So, I left my job for a while to pull myself back together and get strong for the kids, and that’s when I started refocusing on my game. This year has just been amazing for me; with every tournament, I won ‘Player Of The Tournament’ and lost only one final and that was on a decider frame.
“I really wish my mother was here to see this, because she was my biggest fan and never missed a game. I think that is why I took a drop on the game; it was really hard playing the tournaments without her by my side. So whatever I do, I do for her,” she says.
To overcome the grief, King sought help and found it in the pages of books that gave her some perspective and drove her to make some fundamental changes.
“Before my mom’s death, I was feisty and not a good loser. I had to build on myself, emotionally and mentally. I started realizing that a loss in pool doesn’t have the same impact as before because I also started reading a lot of books, especially sports coaching books; namely Relentless, by Tim Grover, [former American basketball player] Michael Jordan’s trainer. I felt like that is exactly who I am, I never quit, I never give up; I’m literally relentless in whatever I do. The book stays with me all the time, and I read my favorite quotes from it before a game.”
It seems those words have propelled her to a level she has not previously reached and she has smashed the glass ceiling in sport.
“I am currently ranked number one in the world, I won the World 8 Ball Player Of The Tournament and World Masters Champion among other titles in Blackpool, England,” says King.
This makes her the first South African woman to have ever won the particular world title. She is testament to the idea that ‘practice makes perfect’, because she attended her first world championship in 2011. Among other achievements, in 2015 and 2016, she was the All Africa Blackball Champion. In 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2019, she was the South African 8 Ball Champion.
And, of course, all of this could not have happened without the assistance of her friends and supporters, she says. Jeronimo and his golf peers helped organize a golf day to raise funds for King’s trip to the world tournament earlier this year.
“Having been involved in the game, I know the amount of money that is needed for players to go to the world championships and represent the country, because there is no sponsorship. Through our network of friends who play golf, and within two months, we raised money for her to go,” Jeronimo says.
King is currently making room on her mantle for more trophies as she hopes to continue on her growth trajectory for the All Africa Eight-Ball Pool Federation tournament in Morocco later this year.
The Forbes Fab 40: Puma Debuts On 2019 List Of The World’s Most Valuable Sports Brands
Brands, like the athletes and entertainers who endorse them, can have great comebacks—or quickly go out of favor. The brand value of a sports team is impacted by the performance of its management and players. Sporting events can be nurtured or neglected. The results show up in our brand values.
Prime example: Six years ago, Puma’s profits were shrinking while rivals Nike and Adidas were posting strong gains. Puma engineered an incredible turnaround with the help of partnerships with singer Rihanna and sprinter Usain Bolt. Shares of Puma are up 74% over the past year, compared with 46% for Adidas and 25% for Nike. Respect? Puma’s price-to-earnings ratio of 46 almost makes Nike (35) and Adidas (30) look cheap.
This year, Puma makes the Forbes Fab 40 for the first time, ranking sixth in the business category with brand value—what the name alone is worth—of $4 billion.
The flipside? Look at Under Armour, whose brand is worth $3.5 billion, 36% less than three years ago. Under Armour has been losing market share to brands like Puma and New Balance, and CNBC reported there’s mounting concern that consumers recognize Under Armour as only a “gym-wear brand” that sells sweat-proof shirts and shorts. The stock has fallen to $18 from $24 since late July.
The Forbes Fab 40 determines the value of the top brands in sports by quantifying the amount the name contributes to the value of the athlete, event, business or team. There’s nothing secretive about our methodology. No black box. Anyone can do the same exercise if they have the data to plug into the formulas.
Here’s how we do it.
Business brand values are the difference between a brand’s enterprise value and the average enterprise value of comparable businesses. Event brand values are the average per-day revenue from media, sponsorships, tickets and licensed merchandise. Athletes’ brand values are their earnings (excluding salary and bonuses from their sport and all investment income) minus the average income of the top ten athletes in the same sport. Team brand values measure the portion of the team’s enterprise value not attributable to the size or demographics of the team’s market, the venue or league-shared revenue.
Aside from Puma, the other new members of this year’s Fab 40 are Gatorade (added because we decided its 77% command of the sports drink market qualified it as a sports brand), the Kentucky Derby (last on the Fab 40 in 2013), Conor McGregor and the Los Angeles Dodgers (a member of the 2016 Fab 40).
The drop-offs: MLBAM (sold BamTech to Walt Disney), NESN (usurped in value by Gatorade and Puma), Usain Bolt (retired) and Manchester United (nudged out by the New England Patriots and FC Barcelona).
My Forbes teammates Kurt Badenhausen, Chris Smith and Christina Settimi provided valuable assistance with the brand values. Our nine previous renditions of the Forbes Fab 40 can be found here. If you want to know which sports brands are the leaders beyond the Fab 40, as well as the other valuable brands they have connections with, visit our SportsMoney Index.
(Values in millions)
1. Nike, $36,800
Over the past two years, shares of Nike have outperformed Adidas by more than two-to-one and Under Armour by more than four-to-one.
2. ESPN, $13,100
ESPN generates more than $3 billion in operating income thanks to monthly affiliate fees of $8, the highest of any sports network.
3. Adidas, $11,200
In April, Beyoncé and Adidas announced a partnership for the performer to develop signature apparel and footwear for the brand.
4. Gatorade, $6,700
Gatorade commands 77% of the sports drink market in the U.S., dwarfing rival Powerade’s 15% share.
5. Sky Sports, $4,400
Sky Sports’ Premier League audience grew by 12% in the United Kingdom in 2018-19.
6. Puma, $4,000
During the first nine months of 2019, Puma’s share price rose 60%, to $79.
7. Under Armour, $3,500
Over the last two years, Under Armour’s operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) has decreased 72%, to $157 million.
8. UFC, $2,400
UFC and Disney inked a seven-year streaming deal earlier this year that pays UFC upfront fees for its pay-per-view bouts on ESPN+.
9. YES, $1,500
In September, a group led by the New York Yankees bought the YES Network from Disney for $3.47 billion.
10. Reebok, $800
Currency-neutral Reebok brand sales were down 3% in 2018, but the brand still returned to profitability.
*Difference between brand’s enterprise value and the average enterprise value of comparable businesses
(Values in millions)
1. Super Bowl, $780
Kantar Media estimates CBS generated $382 million in advertising revenue from Super Bowl 53, down from the $408 million NBC pulled in for the title game the year before.
2. Summer Olympic Games, $375
NBC rang up $1.2 billion in national ad sales for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, slightly less than the amount the network pulled for the prior Summer Games in London.
3. NCAA Men’s Final Four, $300
Television ad spending for March Madness was between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion, according to Kantar Media.
4. FIFA World Cup, $282
Some 2.49 million people watched at least 30 minutes of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a 27.7% increase from the previous World Cup in Brazil.
5. College Football Playoffs, $255
In 2014, ESPN began paying an average annual rights fee of $470 million for the College Football Playoffs on a deal that runs through 2025.
6. WrestleMania, $245
WrestleMania 35 at MetLife Stadium this year grossed $16.9 million, second in the event’s history to the $17.3 million grossed at WrestleMania 32.
7. UEFA Champions League, $168
Media rights and sponsorship revenues for the Champions League and the Europa League are expected to average a combined $3.52 billion per season from 2018 to 2021.
8. Kentucky Derby, $155
Churchill Downs completed a $37 million renovation in 2018 that added more than 1,800 seats in 32 new suites and a third-floor grandstand.
9. Winter Olympic Games, $150
PyeongChang 2018 was the biggest Winter Games ever on social media; official content was consumed by 300 million users and resulted in more than 1.6 billion video views.
10. MLB World Series, $122
The average cost of a 30-second television ad during the 2018 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers was around $500,000, nearly the same as for the prior year’s Fall Classic.
*Average, per-day revenue from media, sponsorships, tickets and licensed merchandise
(Values in millions)
1. Roger Federer, $62
Federer’s $86 million in off-court earnings from partners like Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex is nearly 60% more than any other athlete’s total.
2. Tiger Woods, $33
Woods has earned $1.4 billion from sponsors since he turned pro in 1996.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo, $29
Within 24 hours of its release, Ronaldo’s Juventus jersey sold 520,000 units, worth over $60 million.
4. LeBron James, $28
In 2018, James teamed up with Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lindsey Vonn to launch Ladder, a health and wellness company.
5. Lionel Messi, $20
Messi has a lifetime deal with Adidas that reportedly pays him more than $12 million per year.
6. Stephen Curry, $17
In 2017, Curry formed a new company, SC30, to manage his investments, brand partnerships and philanthropic ventures.
7 (t). Neymar, $15
Neymar is the second-most-popular athlete on social media, with more than 200 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
7 (t). Phil Mickelson, $15
Mickelson’s sponsorship deals have earned him some $700 million over the course of his career.
9. Virat Kohli, $14
In 2018, Kohli won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, awarded to the best cricketer of the year, as well as ODI and Test player of the year honors.
10. Conor McGregor, $12
Before his return fight at UFC 229, McGregor renewed his sponsorship deal with Reebok, which pays the Irishman some $5 million per year.
*Difference between athlete’s endorsement income and the average endorsement income of the top ten athletes in the same sport
(Values in millions)
1. Dallas Cowboys, $1,039
The Cowboys make more money from sponsors and premium seating (suites and club seats) than any other NFL team.
2. New York Yankees, $815
The Yankees generate $100 million more in revenue than any other MLB team.
3. Real Madrid, $725
Earlier this year, Real Madrid signed an eight-year kit deal extension with Adidas that runs through June 2028 and is worth a record $113 million per year, plus 20% of team merchandise sales.
4. Los Angeles Lakers, $674
The Lakers pull in $150 million a year from their local TV and radio deals.
5. Golden State Warriors, $606
The Warriors’ $20 million-per-year jersey patch deal with Rakuten leads all NBA teams.
6. New York Knicks, $563
During the 2017-18 season, the Knicks raked in almost $60 million in club seat revenue, the most in the NBA.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers, $554
The Dodgers earned $170 million in local television rights fees in 2018, the most in MLB.
8. Boston Red Sox, $532
More people attended concerts at Fenway Park in 2018 than at any other baseball stadium.
9. Chicago Cubs, $518
In 2020, the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group will launch Marquee Sports Network, which will be the exclusive network for watching Cubs games.
10 (t). New England Patriots, $465
In February, the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in the Super Bowl to win their sixth title in ten trips to the championship game.
10 (t). Barcelona, $465
In 2018, FC Barcelona inked a training shirt sponsorship deal with Turkish electronics company Beko that is worth a total of $63 million over three years.
-Mike Ozanian; Forbes
The Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019: Serena And Osaka Dominate
Naomi Osaka entered the U.S. Open last year largely under the radar as the 19th-ranked player in the world. But that all changed with her run to the finals and her memorable win over Serena Williams. When Osaka backed up the Open title with a second straight Grand Slam win at the Australian Open in January, the next marketing superstar was born.
Osaka’s accomplishments, youth, skill and multicultural appeal make her a marketer’s dream. Born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father, she was the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam event and the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles.
Her off-court earnings jumped from $1.5 million annually to an estimated $16 million for the 12 months ending June 1, after she signed deals with Mastercard, All Nippon Airways, Nissan and Procter & Gamble.
Her endorsement haul will be even greater over the next year after she signed a blockbuster, multimillion-dollar pact with Nike in the spring, just ahead of our earnings cutoff. Osaka, 21, is primed to be one of the faces of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Including prize money, Osaka’s total earnings over the last 12 months were $24.3 million, by Forbes’ count. That makes her just the fourth female athlete to earn $20 million in a year, joining three fellow tennis aces: Williams, Maria Sharapova and Li Na.
Osaka’s big payday still trails that of Williams, who is the world’s highest-paid female athlete for the fourth year in a row. She earned $29.2 million, including $4.2 million in prize money, after returning to the WTA Tour following the birth of her daughter, Olympia, in September 2017.
Williams continues to expand one of the most robust endorsement portfolios in sports, adding Pampers, Axa Financial and General Mills to her roster. They join more than a dozen other brands, like Nike, Beats, Gatorade and JPMorgan Chase.
The 23-time Grand Slam champ scores highly across all demographics, and among athletes, only Tiger Woods and Tom Brady have higher levels of awareness with U.S. consumers. Williams’ $225 million estimated net worth makes her the only athlete on Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.
Williams and Osaka both earned more than twice as much as the third-highest-paid female athlete in the world, Angelique Kerber, who pulled in $11.8 million from tennis.
Tennis remains the most surefire way for female athletes to make millions of dollars. Witness the WTA Tour’s announcement last week that the year-end WTA Finals event will pay its winner $4.7 million this year—the largest payout in the history of men’s or women’s tennis.
Total prize money on the WTA Tour is $179 million in 2019, and the ten highest-paid female athletes in the world this year are all tennis players (women from golf, soccer and badminton crack the next five).
Female athletes in soccer, basketball and softball earn salaries of pennies on the dollar compared with their male counterparts. The WNBA max salary slot this season is $117,500, compared with $37.4 million in the NBA.
Despite the playing-salary gap in team sports, marketing opportunities have opened up in recent years for female athletes thanks to the growth of social media platforms, says Dan Levy, who heads up the Olympics and female athletes divisions at Wasserman.
“Pro athletes now have a way to connect with their fans that doesn’t rely on network TV to build a fan base and connectivity to the consumers that brands want to reach,” Levy says. “That change alone has helped women become much more powerful in the sports marketing world.”
Wasserman, which represents Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Katie Ledecky among its 2,000 clients, launched a new service, Athlete Exchange, last month to help match athletes who have robust digital presences with brands chasing a desired audience.
Wasserman client Hilary Knight does not get a lot of air time as a member of the U.S. women’s ice hockey team, but her online profile has more social interactions than all but six NHL players in 2019. The engagement is a boost for her endorsement partners like Red Bull, Visa and Bauer Hockey.
Our earnings tally looks at prize money, salaries, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019. There are 15 female athletes who made at least $5 million during that time period; for comparison, roughly 1,300 male athletes will hit that mark this year. The top 15 earned a cumulative $146 million, compared with $130 million last year. It’s an international crew, with athletes from 11 countries represented.
15. Ariya Jutanugarn
Total Earnings: $5.3 million
Prize Money: $3.3 million
Endorsements: $2 million
Jutanugarn won the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe season-long points competition and the accompanying $1 million bonus. The Thai pro golfer has more than ten endorsement partners, including Titleist, Toyota, KBank and Thai Airways.
13 (tie). Madison Keys
Total Earnings: $5.5 million
Prize Money: $2.5 million
Endorsements: $3 million
Keys reached a pair of Grand Slam finals in 2018 (French Open and U.S. Open) and won her first clay-court event of her career at the Charlestown Open this year. Nike is her biggest endorsement, and she also counts Evian, Wilson and Ultimate Software as partners.
13 (tie). P.V. Sindhu
Total Earnings: $5.5 million
Prize Money: $500,000
Endorsements: $5 million
Sindhu remains India’s most marketable female athlete. The badminton star has endorsements with Bridgestone, JBL, Gatorade, Panasonic and more. She became the first Indian to win the season-ending BWF World Tour finals in 2018.
12. Alex Morgan
Total Earnings: $5.8 million
Endorsements: $5.5 million
The biggest star of the U.S. Women’s National Team says she’ll be back in uniform for the 2023 World Cup and is bringing personal sponsors like Nike, Coca-Cola, Beats, AT&T, Continental Tires and Volkswagen along for the ride. The USWNT co-captain is planning to launch a media company focused on women in sport.
10 (tie). Garbiñe Muguruza
Total Earnings: $5.9 million
Prize Money: $2.4 million
Endorsements: $3.5 million
Earnings fell for the two-time major winner as her ranking recently dropped to No. 28, from second in the world at the end of 2017. She still maintains a deep endorsement roster with Adidas, Evian, Beats, Rolex and Babolat.
10 (tie). Venus Williams
Total Earnings: $5.9 million
Prize Money: $900,000
Endorsements: $5 million
The 39-year-old Williams invested in wellness brand Astura and was appointed chief brand officer of the company in May. A 23-time Grand Slam champion, including doubles, she launched her own YouTube channel last month focused on “fitness, tennis, wellness, design and more.” Williams can bank six figures a pop on the speaking circuit.
9. Elina Svitolina
Total Earnings: $6.1 million
Prize Money: $4.6 million
Endorsements: $1.5 million
Svitolina scored the biggest win of her career when she captured the WTA Finals title in Singapore to end the 2018 season. The Ukrainian-born pro pocketed $2.4 million for the win and finished the year with a No. 4 world ranking, triggering bonuses from sponsors Nike and Wilson.
8. Karolina Pliskova
Total Earnings: $6.3 million
Prize Money: $4.6 million
Endorsements: $1.7 million
The Czech-born Pliskova has won four events over the past 12 months but has not reached a Slam final since losing the 2016 U.S. Open. Pliskova bumped her off-court earnings with a new contract with FILA that kicked in this year.
7. Maria Sharapova
Total Earnings: $7 million
Prize Money: $1 million
Endorsements: $6 million
Injuries limited Sharapova to only 18 matches over the past year, but she maintains a lucrative endorsement with Nike, in addition to her Porsche, Head, Evian and Tag Heuer partnerships. Sharapova invested in the UFC and skincare brand Supergoop, yet her main off-court focus is building her candy brand Sugarpova.
6. Caroline Wozniacki
Total Earnings: $7.5 million
Prize Money: $3.5 million
Endorsements: $4 million
Wozniacki won a trio of events in 2018 and ranked among the top three players during the entire year. She married former NBA player David Lee in June. The wedding brought together stars from their respective sports, with Serena Williams a bridesmaid and other attendees including Angelique Kerber, Pau Gasol and Harrison Barnes.
5. Sloane Stephens
Total Earnings: $9.6 million
Prize Money: $4.1 million
Endorsements: $5.5 million
Stephens reached the finals of four events last year and finished the year ranked No. 6 overall. Her Nike pact, which began last year, is one of the biggest in the sport. She showcased a tennis shoe based on the “Aqua” colorway of Nike’s retro Air Jordan VIII this summer.
4. Simona Halep
Total Earnings: $10.2 million
Prize Money: $6.2 million
Endorsements: $4 million
Halep led the sport in prize money in 2018 and ranks fifth on the all-time list with $33 million. She won Grand Slam titles each of the past two years, triggering lucrative bonuses. The Romanian pro counts Nike, Wilson, Mercedes-Benz and Hublot among her sponsors.
3. Angelique Kerber
Total Earnings: $11.8 million
Prize Money: $5.3 million
Endorsements: $6.5 million
Kerber won Wimbledon in 2018 and finished the year ranked second in the world, triggering bonuses from her partners. She renewed deals with Adidas, SAP, Generali and NetJets and recently inked a new pact with Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders brand. Other endorsements include Yonex, Porsche, Rolex and Lavazza.
2. Naomi Osaka
Total Earnings: $24.3 million
Prize Money: $8.3 million
Endorsements: $16 million
Nike shocked the tennis world when it announced in April it had secured Osaka to an endorsement deal. Most observers thought she would return to Adidas, which had Osaka under contract until her deal expired at the end of 2018.
1. Serena Williams
Total Earnings: $29.2 million
Prize Money: $4.2 million
Endorsements: $25 million
Williams, 37, wants to play through at least next year but is already planning her next act with a clothing line, S by Serena, and aims to launch jewelry and beauty products lines by the end of 2020. She has also built a venture portfolio worth more than $10 million.
-Kurt Badenhausen; Forbes