New York: Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova was named the world`s highest-paid female athlete by Forbes magazine.
Sharapova pulled in $24.5 million over the past year, including USD 1 million earned from prize money and the rest derived from endorsements and appearance fees, Forbes said.
Sharapova, 23, became an overnight tennis sensation at the age of 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004, and quickly showed her business acumen by signing lucrative contracts with global brands like Canon, Motorola, Tiffany, Land Rover, and Colgate-Palmolive.
But her biggest deal is with Nike, which re-signed the Russian star in January to an eight-year contract worth up to USD 70 million.
Sharapova also receives royalties from her own line of bags and shoes through Nike subsidiary Cole Haan.
The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, occupy the No. 2 and No. 3 slots in the Forbes` list, respectively. According to the survey, Serena`s earnings account for USD 20.2 million, while Venus earned USD 15.4 million over the past year.
Sharapova dropped from the 76th to 81st place on this year`s Forbes ranking of the richest and most powerful actors, actresses, athletes and musicians.