by Jess McHugh
Originally published: June 6, 2016
From tournament winnings to lucrative endorsement deals, it's no secret that professional athletes rake in substantial paychecks each year. And for the first time in 11 years, tennis player Serena Williams has surpassed rival tennis star Maria Sharapova to become the top-paid female athlete in the world, Forbes reported Monday.
Williams, 34, earned $28.9 million in the past 12 months alone, pushing her ahead of Sharapova, who earned $20 million in the same period. Williams, who has earned $77.6 million in prize money over her 15-year career, was ranked as the 47th-highest-paid athlete in 2015, according to a Forbes list that included both men and women. The top-earner was Floyd Mayweather, who earned $300 million in winnings and endorsements combined in 2015. Sharapova and Williams were the only two female athletes to make it into the top 50 earners on that 2015 list.
The female athlete's success is also noteworthy because she is one of very few famous black tennis stars in the world, and she has often discussed overcoming racial barriers on the court and with fans. "I’m a black woman, and I am in a sport that wasn’t really meant for black people," she wrote in a November article for Wired magazine.