Serena Williams has dominated her sport for 15 years, in a way that few other athletes have. She was the top-ranked player in the world in 2002 at age 20 and as recently as May at 35 (the oldest ever to hold the No. 1 spot). She’s won 86% of her matches, with an Open era-record 23 Grand Slam singles titles. Her career prize money of $84 million is more than twice as much as any other female athlete’s.
Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Usain Bolt and others are often hailed as the greatest athlete of all-time. Williams needs to be in the conversation. Williams has been sidelined since January, when she won her 23rd Slam title with a win over sister Venus at the Australian Open. She revealed three months later that she was pregnant during the tournament. Despite the layoff, Williams still finds ways to dominate her peers. Her earnings between June 2016 and June 2017 of $27 million from prize money and endorsements are twice the total from any other female athlete in the world.
Williams rules Maria Sharapova on the court, with a streak of 18 straight wins against her rival, and for years earned more than double Sharapova’s prize money. But Williams typically lagged her among the top-earners because of lower off-the-court earnings. Sharapova was the highest-paid female athlete for 11 years until Williams unseated her in FORBES’ 2016 look at the top-paid women in sports.