While Maria Sharapova has 15 fewer Grand Slam titles than Serena Williams, the Russian is, by some distance, the richest female athlete on the planet. How has she accrued such wealth despite having earned just half of what Williams has on the court? By being one of the most marketable names and faces in global sport.
1. She’s Made $35 Million in Career Prize Money
2014 was a profitable year for Maria Sharapova. With victory in the Australian Open and three further ranking titles under her belt, the Russian banked $5.2 million of prize money in total – a marked increase on an injury-hit 2013.
With $35 million of prize money earned since she turned pro in 2001, Sharapova sits second in the WTA’s all-time career earnings list. While that sounds – and is – mighty impressive, it’s just half of Serena Williams’ prize money pile. And yet, for all Williams’ dominance on the court – the American has bested her Russian rival in each of their last 16 encounters – Sharapova is streets ahead when it comes to off-court earnings.
2. Nike pay Her $9 Million a Year
Sharapova, who’s been sponsored by Nike since she was just 11-years-old, signed an eight year extension to her contract in 2010, reported to be worth around $70 million in total. How much of that is linked to performance is unclear.
The deal is also thought to entitle Sharapova to a percentage of the sales from her line of dresses designed in conjunction with Nike, so her actual annual income from Their Most Swooshiness is difficult to pinpoint exactly. Suffice to say, every little helps.
Sharapova also receives $2 million per annum to play Head racquets, which puts her on a par with Roger Federer (who receives the same amount from Wilson) and rakes in double what Wilson pay Serena Williams.
3. She “Transcends Sport”
Sharapova’s name has been said to transcend sport, in a similar way to the monikers of David Beckham or Michael Jordan. With the help of her management company, IMG, that transcendence has proved to be bankable indeed, making her extremely attractive to companies not otherwise directly associated with tennis. Sharapova’s portfolio of endorsements is extensive and ranges from water to electronics (two things that, usually, one wouldn’t want to mix). Deals with the likes of Evian, Samsung, Porsche, Tag Heuer and Avon bring in around $12 million a year in off-court earnings.
As with Roger Federer, the majority of Sharapova’s sponsors fall into the luxury bucket, or at least consumer items aimed at the middle- and upper-classes. In 2008 Sharapova signed a deal with Tiffany & Co that saw her wear a different set of earrings for each of the four Grand Slams over a two-year period. Sharapova has said previously that “Beauty sells. I have to realize that’s a part of why people want me. I understand it. It’s fine. I’m not going to make myself ugly.”
Confident, isn’t she?
4. Maria Sugarpova
In 2012 Sharapova started her own confectionary company, which she duly called “Sugarpova” (see what she’s done there?). She sunk $500,000 of her own money into the venture, which sells tennis ball-shaped chewing gum, gummy lips and the like online and in pop-up stores. The company sold 30,000 bags of candy in its first six months, and has since branched out into (inedible) clothing and jewelry.
While you’d be forgiven for thinking the venture a relatively harmless affair, scientists and nutritionists condemned a pop-up store opened by Sharapova on Wimbledon High Street last June as “reprehensible”. Professor Tom Sanders, Head of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, told The Independent that “I would like to see an outright ban on sports personalities being involved in the advertising or marketing of sugar-sweetened drinks, confectionary and crisps.”
Good luck with that, Tom.
5. She Loves the Things You Don’t Need to pay for (like Beachfront Mansions)
Sharapova once said that she “still loves the things you don’t even need to pay for. Going to the beach and being around five of your friends and having a good time means so much more than going out and spending hundreds of dollars.”
Of course, going to the beach with five of your friends is a good bit easier if you happen to own a beach-side mansion with enough bedrooms to put them all up for the night. Sharapova has two: one on Manhattan Beach, CA, and the other on Longboat Key, FL. The properties are worth comfortably north of $10 million in total.
Interesting fact about Longboat Key: no building may be taller than the tallest palm tree.