Forbes on Thursday revealed its ranking of the world’s highest-paid female athletes in 2023, featuring 20 top-earning female elites who made an estimated $226 million combining on-field and off-field earnings in total.

At the age of 22, women’s tennis world No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland topped the list with an estimated $23.9 million (before taxes and agents’ fees) in 2023.

“She has now spent 82 weeks at No. 1, the 10th-most in Women’s Tennis Association history,” Forbes noted.

“Off the court, Swiatek bolstered her endorsement portfolio this year with Visa, On shoes and apparel, Oshee sports drinks and information technology company Infosys, on top of four existing partnerships,” it added.

Iga Swiatek holds the trophy after finishing the year as women’s tennis world No. 1 in Cancun, Mexico. November 6, 2023. /CFP

Iga Swiatek holds the trophy after finishing the year as women’s tennis world No. 1 in Cancun, Mexico. November 6, 2023. /CFP

Forbes’ top 20 world’s highest-paid female athletes

1 Iga Swiatek ($23.9 million)

2 Gu Ailing ($22.1 million)

3 Coco Gauff ($21.7 million)

4 Emma Raducanu ($15.2 million)

5 Naomi Osaka ($15 million)

6 Aryna Sabalenka ($14.7 million)

7 Jessica Pegula ($12.5 million)

8 Venus Williams ($12.2 million)

9 Elena Rybakina ($9.5 million)

10 Leylah Fernandez ($8.8 million)

11 (tie) Nelly Korda and Megan Rapinoe ($8.2 million)

13 Candace Parker ($8.1 million)

14 Alex Morgan ($7.8 million)

15 Zheng Qinwen ($7.2 million)

16 (tie) P.V. Sindhu and Simone Biles ($7.1 million)

18 Ons Jabeur ($5.7 million)

19 Brooke Henderson ($5.4 million)

20 Markéta Vondroušová ($5.2 million)

Zheng Qinwen celebrates her victory over Jelena Ostapenko in a WTA Elite Trophy match in Zhuhai, China, October 27, 2023. /CFP

Zheng Qinwen celebrates her victory over Jelena Ostapenko in a WTA Elite Trophy match in Zhuhai, China, October 27, 2023. /CFP

Zheng Qinwen celebrates her victory over Jelena Ostapenko in a WTA Elite Trophy match in Zhuhai, China, October 27, 2023. /CFP

Tennis dominance continues, Zheng Qinwen shines

Twelve out of 20 of the world’s highest-paid female athletes are tennis players, and 21-year-old Zheng Qinwen is the solo tennis player from China.

Tennis: Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Emma Raducanu, Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, Jessica Pegula, Venus Williams, Elena Rybakina, Leylah Fernandez, Zheng Qinwen, Ons Jabeur and Markéta Vondroušová.

Badminton: P.V. Sindhu

Basketball: Candace Parker

Freestyle skiing: Gu Ailing

Golf: Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson

Gymnastics: Simone Biles

Football: Megan Rapino and Alex Morgan

Venus Williams in action during the U.S. Open in New York, U.S., August 29, 2023. /CFP

Venus Williams in action during the U.S. Open in New York, U.S., August 29, 2023. /CFP

Venus Williams in action during the U.S. Open in New York, U.S., August 29, 2023. /CFP

Oldest and youngest

At the age of 43, Venus Williams is the oldest player on the list.

“She entered seven tournaments this year, and played 10 matches – but the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion remains a marketing force,” Forbes noted.

The 19-year-old Coco Gauff is the youngest player on the list.

“A Grand Slam breakthrough at the U.S. Open in September could push Gauff to a new level as a pitchwoman, but she was already doing just fine on the marketing side, signing this year with Baker Tilly, Bose and UPS,” Forbes commented.

“On the court, Gauff is ranked a career-high No. 3 in singles after winning four WTA tournaments this year,” it added.

Coco Gauff holds the trophy after winning the U.S. Open women's singles title in New York, U.S., September 9, 2023. /CFP

Coco Gauff holds the trophy after winning the U.S. Open women’s singles title in New York, U.S., September 9, 2023. /CFP

Coco Gauff holds the trophy after winning the U.S. Open women’s singles title in New York, U.S., September 9, 2023. /CFP

On-field earnings

The average on-field earnings of the top 20 highest-paid female athletes is $2.69 million.

Iga Swiatek had the highest on-field earnings at $9.9 million while Naomi Osaka had the least.

Even though she was ranked as the No. 5 highest-paid female athlete, Naomi Osaka had zero on-field earnings this year because she gave birth to a daughter in July and hasn’t played competitive tennis since September 2022.

“In the meantime, she has expanded into new marketing categories by signing sponsor deals with Bobbie baby formula and Crate & Kids, and her media company, Hana Kuma, raised $5 million in April as it spun off from the SpringHill Co,” Forbes wrote.

Gu Ailing wins the Sportsperson of the Year award at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony in Paris, France, May 8, 2023. /CFP

Gu Ailing wins the Sportsperson of the Year award at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony in Paris, France, May 8, 2023. /CFP

Gu Ailing wins the Sportsperson of the Year award at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony in Paris, France, May 8, 2023. /CFP

Off-field earnings

Gu Ailing had the highest off-field earnings at $22 million, while Markéta Vondroušová had the least at $500,000.

“Gu is the rare Olympic athlete whose business doesn’t plummet between Games. The freestyle skier and model has long-term sponsorships all over the globe, with brands including Mengniu Dairy and sportswear maker Anta in China and Louis Vuitton and Victoria’s Secret in the West,” Forbes noted.

Naomi Osaka reposted a tweet by InStyle featuring her story. /@InStyle

Naomi Osaka reposted a tweet by InStyle featuring her story. /@InStyle

Naomi Osaka reposted a tweet by InStyle featuring her story. /@InStyle

2023 vs 2022

There is a 13 percent drop from 2022’s cumulative earnings of $258 million to 2023’s $226 million by the world’s highest-paid top 20 female athletes.

The 2022 list featured a total of 24 female players due to some being tied in the rankings.

Naomi Osaka topped the 2022 list with $51.1 million, including $1.1 million on-field and $50 million off-field earnings.

Newcomers: Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Zheng Qinwen and Markéta Vondroušová

Tennis players Serena Williams and Paula Badosa, along with another five golf players – Minjee Lee, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Jin Young-ko and In Gee-chun – were dropped from the 2023 top-20 list.

Female vs male athletes

Forbes revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are the top three world’s highest-paid male athletes in 2023, with total earnings being $136 million, $130 million and $120 million, respectively.

“The top 20 male athletes in Forbes’ 2023 ranking, published in May, totaled $1.9 billion – more than eight times what the top 20 women earned – and the difference gets even starker from there,” Forbes states.

“During the 2023-24 season, 60 NBA players will outearn Swiatek with their playing salaries alone,” it added.

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