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Serena vs. Maria: One dominates on the court, the other off

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova continue to dominate the world of sports, on and off the court.

(Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports)
(Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports)

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams have been two of the top female tennis professionals for the last decade and half, winning a combined 88 WTA titles. Both have been successful financially as well, having made mega-millions in tournament earnings.

While Williams has been focused on surpassing the world record of grand slams (she is one short of the mark of 18, held by Martina Navratilova), Sharapova has taken a different approach. Having launched a candy line “Sugarpova,” serving as a TV commentator for the Sochi Winter Olympics, and just recently being a part owner in a skin care line called “Sugargoop!“, she seems to have a lot on her plate as she struggles to get back to the top. Sharapova says that despite her lack of success on the court this year, she is ready for the clay court season, a surface she has had much success on.

Sharapova, who has sponsorship deals with Nike, Porsche, Tag Heuer, Samsung Electronics, and Evian, almost doubled Williams in off-court earnings 2012 and 2013 with $23 million. She also has been listed as the highest-paid female athlete by Forbes for nine years in a row. Unfortunately, her tennis ranking has slipped to No. 8 in the world and her prize money winnings sits at $27.1 million.


Meanwhile, Williams holds the huge edge on the court with 17 grand slam wins, 55 career titles and $55.4 million in earnings. Yet her sponsorship deals with Nike, Gatorade and the HSN Online Store as well as part ownership of the NFL franchise Miami Dolphins made her only $12 million in 2012 and 2013.

It’s interesting to see that the No. 1 player in the world,  possibly the best female athlete ever, struggles to make the most of her image in the marketing and sponsorship world. Although she has made twice as much as Sharapova on the court, Williams has made half as much off the court.


The competition will not cease between these two iconic players, but who will leave a longer lasting and more meaningful legacy? On the court, it appears the answer will be Williams. Leveraging tennis into off-court earnings, the answer so far is Sharapova.

Cole Haan, Evian, Head racquets, Nike, Porsche, Samsung, Tag Heuer

Cole Haan, Evian, Head racquets, Nike, Porsche, Samsung, Tag Heuer

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