Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes of all time, is now the highest-paid woman in sports. Williams has won 21 Grand Slam titles and earned more than $77 million in prize money, along with the title of Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year four times, including in 2015.
But until recently, rival Maria Sharapova outranked her as the highest paid female athlete in the world. Williams had a stronger win record on the court, but Sharapova was getting the endorsement deals. Even with a 19-2 win record against her Russian rival, never losing a match against her since 2005, Williams was not seeing the same money.
Serena Williams Sees Financial Victory
This spring, Sharapova admitted to testing positive for the performance enhancing drug meldonium. The information came out at the Australian Open and resulted in a two-year ban for Sharapova, as well as the end of her relationships with TAG Heuer and American Express.
It is only in the last year that Williams has made financial gains over her opponent. Partly this is because she’s racked up more wins in her 30s, even though many other players have been stronger in their 20s.
“I have played better in my 30s. And I played pretty well in my 20s, don’t get me wrong! But my consistency is better, my momentum is better, my wins are quicker,” the tennis star tells Glamour. At 34, Williams bucks the downward trend that athletes frequently see as they age and face younger opponents.
“Am I the greatest? I don’t know. I am the greatest that I can be,” Williams told Melissa Harris Perry in a recent Glamour magazine interview. “I don’t understand what ‘no’ means or what failure means; I only understand what ‘yes’ means and what ‘try again’ means.”
Williams recently appeared in a video on Glamour.com in which she pelts a heckler with tennis balls. She said it was produced “to express some of the frustrations that I have about the obnoxious things that men sometimes say about women.” “I’m doing this for all womankind,” she assures the camera before adding, “I’m kind of doing it for me, too, on the low.”