Serena Williams towers above her sport. Her closest competitor, current World No. 4 Maria Sharapova, hasn’t beaten Williams in eleven years — though Sharapova has won 34 singles titles and the career Grand Slam. Sharapova is 2-18 against Serena Williams, lifetime. But one place Sharapova is beating Williams is at the bank. At No. 1 and No. 2, Williams ($70 million) has doubled Sharapova ($35 million) in career tennis earnings. But the big money in professional sports comes from endorsement deals — and Sharapova is unrivaled in women’s tennis in the largesse of her marketing money.
On its 2015 highest paid athletes list, Forbes reports that Williams’ endorsement earnings were $13 million last year. Sharapova earned $23 million, with her win at the French Open triggering a big bonus from Nike. (Serena is also with Nike. They may pay her less for winning because she wins all the time!) Sharapova has deals with Samsung, Tag Heuer and Evian, among others. Head, as an example, pays Sharapova twice what Wilson pays Williams to use their rackets. But neither woman is struggling. Williams’ net worth is estimated by some at $145 million, while Sharapova’s is near $190 million. What’s interesting, perhaps, about those numbers is that Williams’ net worth is about double her career earnings, while Sharapova’s is more than 5 times her career money.