If a little girl has both athletic talent and dreams of growing up to be rich, she should learn to play tennis. In ranking the female athletes with the highest net worths — those with fortunes of at least $15 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth — GOBankingRates learned that 20 of the top 26 richest female athletes in the world are tennis players, including the top two who measure their fortunes in nine figures. But who else made the list? Find out which names rank among the richest athletes.
Last updated: Aug. 13, 2020
22. (tie) Victoria Azarenka
Right-handed Belarusian tennis great Victoria Azarenka is known for her wicked backhand and dominance in hardcourt play. Currently ranked No. 58 in the Women’s Tennis Association, she’s won 20 singles tournaments, including two Australian Opens, and made it to the finals in 17 others.
22. (tie) Jelena Jankovic
Serbian Jelena Jankovic won more than $19 million in prize money over the course of her 20-year career in pro tennis, which began in 2000. The right-hander peaked in 2008 when she was ranked No. 1 in the world, an achievement she earned just before heading into the finals of that year’s U.S. Open. She has a lifetime singles record of 644-370.
22. (tie) Martina Navratilova
Universally recognized as one of the greatest and most important women’s tennis players of all time, Martina Navratilova’s impact was felt by female athletes in all sports. An icon of the LGBTQ community, she was the first female superstar athlete to come out while she was still playing. On the court, she won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and a record 31 Grand Slam doubles titles. She spent 332 weeks ranked at No. 1, second only to Steffi Graf.
22. (tie) Lorena Ochoa
Although her career lasted just seven short years, Mexican golf great Lorena Ochoa dominated the sport through the entirety of her time on the LPGA Tour. She was named rookie of the year in 2003 after tallying eight top-10 finishes in her first full year on the Tour. She held the No. 1 spot in the Official World Rankings for 158 consecutive weeks and won 21 tournaments, including two majors, in a single three-year stretch. Retiring on her own terms while at the top of her game, Ochoa holds the distinction of being the first female golfer born in Mexico to be voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
They Started With Money: 25 Athletes Who Were Born Rich
22. (tie) Karrie Webb
A pro as of 1996, Australian golf great Karrie Webb is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. She’s racked up 41 wins, including seven majors, on the LPGA Tour. Off the course, she’s known for her activism, charity work and philanthropy. In total, she’s earned more than $20 million in career winnings.
19. (tie) Chris Evert
Tennis legend Chris Evert was so prominent that she was pictured on the Wheaties cereal box in 1987, and two years later, she became the first female athlete to host “Saturday Night Live.” Her .900 winning percentage remains the highest of any player in the history of women’s tennis, and she went to the semifinals or better in 34 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments — another record that remains unbroken. She played in her first U.S. Open at age 16 in 1971 and went on to win 101 U.S. Open matches, a record unbeaten by any man or woman. Between 1972 and 1989, she never was ranked lower than No. 4.
19. (tie) Ana Ivanovic
Serbian right-hander Ana Ivanovic won more than $15.5 million on the tennis court. In 2008, she was ranked No. 1 in the world after winning the French Open. Known for her powerful forehand, she tallied nine top 20 seasons in her final 11 years as a pro before retiring in 2016. In all, she won 15 singles titles.
19. (tie) Michelle Kwan
The most decorated American figure skater in history, Michelle Kwan is a two-time Olympic medalist, earning a spot on the podium at both the 1998 and 2002 Games. Between 1996 and 2006, she won five World Championships and nine U.S. National Championships. She remains one of the most famous and celebrated figure skaters and female athletes of any sport.
Making Money Outside the Game: Athletes Who Got Rich for Something Other Than Sports
15. (tie) Kim Clijsters
Belgian tennis star Kim Clijsters turned pro in 1997 and by 2003, she was the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the world in both singles and doubles competition. She won 41 singles titles, 11 doubles titles and remains the only player ever to beat both of the Williams sisters twice at the same event. She’s currently in the midst of her second comeback after struggling with injuries and retiring twice.
15. (tie) Lindsay Davenport
Before retiring in 2010, Lindsay Davenport was ranked No. 1 eight times for a total of 98 weeks at the top of the women’s tennis world. She won three Grand Slams in consecutive years — the 1998 U.S. Open, Wimbledon in 1999 and the 2000 Australian Open — and won 55 singles titles in total.
15. (tie) Billie Jean King
It’s hard to imagine that any athlete has had a bigger impact on women’s sports than Billie Jean King, who famously beat the loudmouthed and chauvinistic former men’s champion Bobby Riggs in three straight sets in the “Battle of the Sexes.” The 1973 match was watched by 90 million people across the world. She has been an activist and an advocate for women throughout her life and career, which included 39 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles — 20 of them at Wimbledon.
15. (tie) Monica Seles
An ethnic Hungarian born in Yugoslavia (now Serbia), tennis legend Monica Seles holds citizenship in three countries, including the United States. Before retiring in 2008, Seles was ranked No. 1 in the world several times in both singles and doubles and won 53 singles titles, including nine Grand Slams. In 1993, an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf stormed the court and stabbed Seles in the back during a break in play because he wanted to see Graf return to the No. 1 ranking. She survived the attack but didn’t return to the courts for more than two years.
Enjoying Life After Sports: Maria Sharapova and 43 More Incredibly Rich Retired Athletes
12. (tie) Martina Hingis
Retired Swiss tennis great Martina Hingis spent 209 weeks as No. 1 in the singles rankings and won 43 singles titles, including five Grand Slams. After starting tennis at age 2 and entering tournaments as early as 4 years old, she would go on to win nearly $25 million in career earnings.
12. (tie) Naomi Osaka
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has been one of the hottest players in the sport since turning pro in 2013 — she’s currently ranked No. 10 in the world, down from No. 1 in 2019. She won the U.S. Open in 2018 and the Australian Open in 2019, just two of her combined five singles title wins.
12. (tie) Agnieszka Radwańska
Agnieszka Radwańska of Poland went to the Wimbledon finals in 2012, six years before she retired from tennis in 2018. Although she never won a Grand Slam and never ranked No. 1, she was a prolific player who finished her career with an impressive 594-269 record, enough to pile up nearly $27.7 million in career earnings.
9. (tie) Steffi Graf
When Steffi Graf retired in 1999, it was the moment that ended of one of the greatest eras in women’s tennis history and signaled the beginning of the modern era dominated by the Williams sisters. She could be considered the greatest player in the history of the sport of either gender by a range of standards. She was ranked No. 1 for 377 weeks — 186 consecutively — crushing the next-closest mark of any man or woman. She ended her career with 107 title wins, one of only three women — along with Navratilova and Evert — to break triple digits. She’s the only tennis player ever to win all four Grand Slam tournaments at least four times and the only one to win all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. She won 22 Grand Slam titles in all.
Take a Look: The Highest-Paid Athlete of Every Year From 1990 to 2020
9. (tie) Simona Halep
A pro since 2006, Simona Halep currently is the No. 2-ranked tennis player in the world — she was ranked No. 1 as recently as 2017. She’s won 20 singles titles, including the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019. During her time on the court, the Romanian has taken home more than $36.5 million in career earnings.
9. (tie) Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki retired in January, ending a 15-year tennis career that began in 2005. She won 30 singles titles, including the 2018 Australian Open, which was her only Grand Slam win. She was known for bitter rivalries with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova but had a career losing record against both. Still, she pulled in more than $35 million in career earnings.
8. Annika Sörenstam
With 72 LPGA Tournament wins, including 10 majors, Annika Sörenstam is among the most accomplished female golfers in history. Known as Ms. 59, she was the first and only woman to shoot a sub-60 round in professional golf history. Her $22 million in career earnings is $2 million more than the No. 2 highest-earning woman. She is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
6. (tie) Anna Kournikova
Anna Kournikova never won a Grand Slam event or any WTA title, and never ranked higher than No. 8 during her time as a tennis pro between 1995 and 2007. She was, however, a dynamic celebrity who was frequently among the top 10 most searched women on Google Images during the height of her popularity in the early 2000s. She parlayed her celebrity into a successful endorsement career — that’s on top of the $3.58 million she earned on the court.
6. (tie) Li Na
Chinese right-hander Li Na won nine singles tennis titles and peaked at No. 2 in the rankings in 2014, the year she retired, after turning pro in 1999. Two of her wins were Grand Slam championships: the 2011 French Open and the 2014 Australian Open. Na earned nearly $17 million playing tennis, but she owes most of her wealth to lucrative endorsement deals. She holds the distinction of being the first Asian-born player to be inducted into the International Hall of Fame.
Charitable: 23 Athletes Who Love Giving Their Money Away
5. Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick is the most accomplished woman in the history of the male-dominated auto racing world. In 2005, she became the first woman to lead laps and place in the top five in the Indianapolis 500, and in 2008, she became the first woman to win a major league North American open-wheel race. After transitioning to NASCAR, she earned the fastest time in qualifying for the 2013 Daytona 500 and became the first woman to win a NASCAR Cup Series pole. Post-retirement, she is a successful podcaster and author.
4. Venus Williams
Venus Williams is one of the most significant players in women’s tennis history. She and her younger sister, Serena, have been the most visible faces of the post-Steffi Graf era in women’s tennis, which has been defined by a level of athleticism and power rarely seen in earlier athletes and exemplified by the Williams sisters. She turned pro in 1994 at age 14 and has won 49 career titles — including seven Grand Slam tournaments — and picked up nearly $42 million in prize money. Most notably, Williams was the first African American woman to win a Grand Slam title since Althea Gibson in 1958 when she won at Wimbledon in 2000.
3. Alexis DeJoria
Alexis DeJoria is an NHRA drag racing competitor in the Funny Car category. Like Danica Patrick, she spent her career breaking down barriers in the male-dominated world of racing. In 2016, she became the first woman to compete in 100 Funny Car events and stands as a five-time Funny Car winner. In 2014, she won the 60th annual U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, one of the most prestigious events in her sport.
2. Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova retired in February after a nearly 20-year career that started in 2001. Ranked No. 1 five different times for a total of 21 weeks, she won 36 singles titles, including five Grand Slams. She won each Grand Slam at least once, triumphing twice at the French Open. Aside from the nearly $39 million she earned on the court, Sharapova enjoys a successful career as a model and celebrity endorser.
1. Serena Williams
Serena Williams won 23 Grand Slam titles, the most in the Open Era and one behind Margaret Court for the most ever. A pro since 1995, she’s been the dominant force of women’s tennis in her generation. During one of her eight stretches of being ranked No. 1 in the world, she held the top ranking for 186 weeks straight, tying Steffi Graf’s record. She’s earned nearly $93 million on the court, but she also is a businesswoman, investing in startup companies and creating her own fashion line.
More From GOBankingRates
All net worth information is according to Celebrity Net Worth and accurate as of Aug. 12, 2020.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: From Serena Williams to Michelle Kwan: The Richest Women in Sports