For female athletes out to get rich from their dominance, tennis is the go-to sport. Nine of the world’s ten highest-paid female athletes make their living with a racket, with the only exception this year being Alex Morgan, co-captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, who lands at No. 10 with $4.6 million. The aces can thank Rosie Casals.
Casals, whose 112 doubles tournament titles are the second-highest total ever, was one of nine female tennis players, dubbed the Original 9, who broke ranks with the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association a half-century ago to protest the dollar difference between male and female prize money, which reached as high as 12-to-1 at events. The fight—which led to players including Casals and her longtime doubles partner Billie Jean King being banned from events sanctioned by the USLTA—gave birth to the Virginia Slims Tour, which later morphed into the WTA.
Outside of prize money, Osaka and Williams remain tennis’ only female superstars, with Osaka setting a record for female athletes this year, beating the earnings record set by Maria Sharapova in 2015 when she earned $29.7 million and unseating Williams, who held the No. 1 position for the past four years.
Osaka scored a slew of new endorsement deals following her back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open, including Nike which committed roughly $10 million annually to win her away from Adidas. Osaka now has 15 endorsement partners, including global brands like Nissan Motor, Shiseido and Yonex.
Morgan is the lone non-tennis player to crack the top ten, thanks to a massive endorsement portfolio worth ten times as much as her roughly $400,000 on-field salary and bonus last year. She has more than a dozen current sponsors, including Nike, Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and AT&T. Her latest is an Alex Morgan Barbie Doll, as part of the brand’s Role Model Series.