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Naomi Osaka tops list of highest-paid female athletes for third year in a row

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka has once again topped the list of highest-paid female athletes, bringing in $57.3 million last year, according to Forbes.

The number is a $2.1 million increase over 2021, with an increase of $5 million in endorsements.

Osaka’s tumultuous year on-the-court showed, with her winnings down to just $2.3 million from $5.2 million the year prior.

The former world No. 1 added more than ten brand partners in 2021, including Louis Vuitton, Sweetgreen and Tag Heuer. She has also increased various equity stakes and released a collection of NFTs on Tom Brady’s Autograph platform.

Serena and Venus Williams were the second- and third-highest paid female athletes in 2021, with Serena taking home $46 million — an increase from $35.5 million in 2020. Venus, meanwhile, saw an $11.3 million payday.

Garbine Muguruza and Ash Barty are the other two tennis players on the list, with Muguruza sitting in fifth at $8.8 million and Barty eighth, bringing home $6.9 million.

Gymnast Simone Biles took home $10 million in 2021, good for fourth on the list. Golfers Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda also grace the list.

Candace Parker is the lone WNBA player, sitting in 10th with $5.7 million earned in 2021. P.V. Sindhu, an Indian badminton player, sits seventh with $7.2 million earned in 2021.

According to Forbes, the combined $167 million in earnings by the world’s 10 highest paid female athletes is a 23 percent increase over 2020. However, Serena Williams and Osaka account for almost all of that jump. The threshold for the top 10 of the women’s list actually sits lower than it did a decade ago. In 2012, the 10th-highest paid female athlete brought in $6.1 million.

But the numbers also indicate that money and sponsors are diversifying in terms of athletes and sports. It’s the first time in at least a dozen years that a gymnast and a basketball player grace the top 10 highest-paid athletes. While tennis still accounts for half of the list, that’s the lowest that it’s been in more than a decade. It’s also a stark contrast from 2019, when the entirety of the top 10 was made up of tennis players.

Certain sports like golf could start to see an increase in numbers as well, as the women’s US Open saw an increase in prize money from $5.5 million in 2021 to $10 million in 2022.