Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka was the wealthiest sportswoman in 2021 – and her earnings almost doubled that of icon Serena Williams, who ranked second.
Women’s sports continued to develop in popularity and stature in 2021 after a number of stars had a year to remember.
In the future, British fans may look back on 2021 as the year of Emma Raducanu with the teenage star bursting onto the scene at Wimbledon before unbelievably winning the US Open – becoming the first qualifier in tennis history to win a Grand Slam as she did so at the age of 18.
Simone Biles cemented her place as one of the most influential and inspirational figures in sport as she sacrificed Olympic glory to speak out about her struggles with mental health.
The American gymnast – who has won a remarkable 32 Olympic and World Championship medals – was ranked third on the sportswomen rich list as she raked in £4.5million from endorsement deals and competition winnings.
However, Biles’ figure is dwarfed by duo Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams.
The tennis superstars are two of the biggest sportspeople in the world – and such a status is reflected by their earnings in 2021.
Williams made an eye-watering £26.6m this year despite the 39-year-old last winning a Grand Slam back in 2017. This is largely to have come from sponsorship due to the American’s mammoth marketing potential, as well as her own venture fund – Serena Ventures – reportedly making more than 50 investments
It appears Williams is chasing Osaka both on and off the court, though.
The Japanese superstar won the Australian Open to open 2021, sealing her fourth Grand Slam title of a glowing career before the 24-year-old decided to speak out on mental health issues as she pulled out of the French Open.
Osaka is a leading activist and an excellent advocate for women’s sport, echoed as she became the first tennis player to light the Olympic torch during the opening ceremony of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.
Her incredible marketability was seen as Osaka brought in a scarcely-believable £41.5m – £15m more than her closest rival in Williams – due to competition winnings like the Melbourne tournament, as well as enormous sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike.
Osaka, ranked 13th in the world, was also named the winner of the acclaimed Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award.
The top 10 wealthiest sportswomen from 2021 earnings included the likes of Korean golfers Jin Young Ko (£4.2m), Sei Young Kim (£3.5m) and Inbee Park (£2.8m) and American soccer duo Alex Morgan (£3.2m) and Megan Rapinoe (£3m).
The list was completed by Spanish tennis star Garbine Muguruza (£3.4m) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin (£2.9m)