National Women and Girls in Sports Day was created in 1987 by Ronald Reagan, and it is observed every year in early February.
The special holiday was created to honor the amazing contributions female athletes make to the world of sports every year. Female athletes have had to work extremely hard throughout the years to gain equality in sports, but they still often get paid much less than their male counterparts.
In honor of the upcoming National Women and Girls in Sports Day on February 6, 2019, let's learn more about the five highest paid female athletes of last year.
Maria Sharapova entered the 2018 tennis season coming off a 15-month suspension. The lengthy absence clearly took a toll on the Russian's game because she consistently struggled to advance out of the opening rounds against far less accomplished players.
Sharapova's best finish of the year came when she reached the quarterfinal round of the French Open. While she did not win a single tournament last year, Maria Sharapova was still able to earn just over $1 million in prize money.
The vast majority of Sharapova's earnings last year came off the tennis court. While her suspension cost her several major endorsements, she was still a major aspect of the marketing plans for Nike, Porsche and UBS Bank. In addition to the endorsements, Sharapova also has her own candy company.
The rapidly expanding premium candy brand is sold in more than 20 different countries and had sales totaling more than $20 million last year. It is estimated that Maria Sharapova earned approximately $9.5 million from her endorsements and business ventures in 2018.
Garbine Muguruza is among the highest paid female athletes. She was a relatively unknown tennis player before she shocked the world by defeating Serena Williams to win the 2016 French Open. This victory propelled Muguruza to the top of rankings and made her a superstar in her native country of Spain.
The last year has not been too kind to Garbine. Her only tournament victory of the year came in April when she won the Monterrey Open in Mexico.
Her semifinals appearance at the French Open was also the only time she got out of the second round in a major tournament. Despite sliding down all the way to number 15 in the rankings, Garbine Muguruza still earned $5.5 million in prize money over the last year.
Muguruza's rise to the top of the tennis world earned her huge endorsement deals. She currently has extremely lucrative contracts with Adidas, Evian and Rolex.
In addition to these national brands, Garbine is also involved in marketing plans with several local businesses in Spain. It is estimated that half of her earnings last year came from endorsement deals.
Sloan Stephens only had moderate success in her tennis career before breaking out in 2017 by winning the US Open. Stephens proved the major victory was not a fluke by having an extremely solid season in 2018.
She won the Miami Open, finished second at the French Open and had another impressive showing at the US Open last year. The solid season helped Stephens climb all the way up to number three in the rankings and earn approximately $5.7 million in prize money in 2018.
Businesses instantly realized the marketing potential of Sloan Stephens after she earned her first major title. American tennis fans were looking for another young star to fall in love with after years of dominance by the Williams sisters.
Sloan's rapid rise earned her a clothing sponsorship deal with Nike. She is also heavily involved in the marketing campaigns for Mercedes-Benz, Colgate, Precision Nutrition and chocolate milk. Her $5.5 million in endorsement earnings helped her make more than $11 million in 2018.
Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish tennis player that has been one of the most marketable female athletes in the world since her career took off in 2009. After being one of the most dominate players on the WTA tour over the last decade, Wozniacki had her best year on the court in 2018.
The former top-ranked player started the year off with a bang by getting her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January. Wozniacki added two other trophies to her mantle when she won the Eastbourne International and the China Open last year. The three big tournament victories helped her earn nearly $7 million in prize money, which was only topped by Simona Halep.
While she rarely appears in commercials in the United States, Caroline Wozniacki is a huge superstar throughout Europe. She is currently paid to help endorse products by Adidas, Rolex, Lympo and Babolat. Caroline also recently introduced her own line of sunglasses. Her business ventures away from the tennis court earned Caroline Wozniacki an estimated $6 million last year.
It is no surprise to see one of the most famous and highest paid female athletes in the world at the top of this list. Serena Williams is simply one of the most dominant athletes in sports history, but she actually had a down year in 2018.
Williams was forced to spend a lot of time off of the tennis court after suffering a few health issues following her pregnancy. It took Serena some time to get back into top form, but that finally started to happen at the end of the year.
Williams capped off her 2018 season with second place finishes at Wimbledon and the United States Open. Despite the slow start to the season, Serena Williams still won just over $3 million in prize money last year.
Serena has become so popular that she would still be the highest paid female athlete in the world if she never stepped on the tennis court again. It is estimated that Williams made $18 million from her various business deals last year. In addition to creating her clothing line with the help of Nike, Serena Williams also has huge marketing deals with Gatorade, Pepsi, IBM and Aston Martin.