The new list of Forbes’s list of the world’s 100 highest paid athletes in 2017, released Thursday, includes 99 male athletes, some of whom, like Williams, are at the top of their sport. Williams ranked 51st on the list, making a $27 million last year.
Outside of her tournament wins (including setting the Open-era record for 23 grand slam titles), most of Williams’s earnings came from more than a dozen endorsement partnerships with a variety of brands including Beats By Dre, Gatorade, JP Morgan Chase, Nike and Wilson, among others, according to Forbes. She also joined the board of SurveyMonkey in May, Forbes reports.
Forbes notes that her career earnings — $84 million — is close to $50 million more than those of any other female tennis player.
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Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, of Real Madrid, topped the list again this year, making $93 million in the last year. Basketball legend LeBron James, who currently leads the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, was the second highest-earning athlete with $86.2 million in the last year. Maria Sharapova, a professional tennis player from Russia, failed to make the list this year, notes Forbes. Sharapova saw reductions in her endorsement contracts due to her 15-month suspension for a failed drug test. The reductions cost the tennis star a spot on the list.
Female athletes are generally paid less than their male counterparts. To give that some context: women in the 2015 WNBA season, for example, had a minimum salary of $38,000 and a maximum salary of $109,500. In 2012, the team salary cap was $878,000. For NBA players, the minimum salary in the 2015-2016 season was $525,093, with a maximum salary of $16.407m. And as for the NBA’s salary cap that year? A colossal $63 million.
Some female athletes have chosen to fight back. The U.S. women’s soccer team fought a contentious battle for equal pay after high profile team members like Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo filed a wage discrimination complaint against U.S. Soccer with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2016. The team’s members were reportedly making just 40% of what their male counterparts were making. In April, just over a year later, the team finally negotiated better base pay and travel benefits, among other things. The U.S. women’s hockey team struck a similar deal with with U.S.A. Hockey just the month before.