Serena Williams Is the Only Woman Ranking Among the World's 50 Highest-Paid Athletes This Year

The Forbes World's 50 Highest Paid Athletes list this year is revealing in a number of ways. It shows how money from Saudi Arabia has supercharged elite athlete paydays, particularly in the world of golf. It also notably contains just one woman: Serena Williams.

The tennis star, who announced her retirement in 2022 and played her final matches to record ratings, landed at No. 49 with $45.3 million in annual earnings. She's likely to depart the list next year. Although the 2021 and 2022 lists also included record earnings from tennis ace Naomi Osaka, her injuries and pregnancy have kept her off the court lately and off this year's list.

Aside from them, the next-highest-earning female athlete on the 2022 list was Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu. She took in about $20 million in the year of the Beijing Olympics, but that's still less than half of the cutoff for this year's Top 50 list. Athletes like gymnast Simone Biles and tennis player Emma Raducanu have also made eight figures recently, although far below Top 50 range.

As Forbes notes, only tennis has proven to consistently be a platform for female athletes that draw both on- and off-field earnings high enough to land on the company's annual Top 50 list. All four Grand Slam tournaments have offered equal payouts for men's and women's divisions since 2007, although the same is not true for smaller events.

Williams is one of two tennis stars on the list; Roger Federer landed at No. 8 with $95.1 million in annual earnings. With Williams' retirement, Osaka is the best hope for a female athlete on next year's list, provided she returns to competition.