Serena tops Sharapova as world’s highest paid sportswoman

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Serena Williams lost the French Open final Saturday to Garbine Muguruza. It marked her third failed attempt to win a 22nd singles Grand Slam title, which would tie the Open-era record set by Steffi Graf. Williams was extremely gracious in defeat as she addressed the crowd at Roland Garros in French. The tennis icon can afford to be gracious these days: She earned $28.9 million over the past 12 months. That makes her the world’s highest-paid female athlete over that span, unseating Maria Sharapova, who had held the title the past 11 years.

US player Serena Williams returns the ball to Netherlands' Kiki Bertens during their women's semi-final match at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open in Paris on June 3, 2016. / AFP / PHILIPPE LOPEZ (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Williams, 34, has dominated her sport for a decade and a half. She won her second Grand Slam in 2002 and has added 19 more since then. Her career prize money of $77 .6 million is more than twice as much as any other female athlete.

Her late-career tear has made Williams a compelling figure for marketers. She ranks second among active athletes, behind only LeBron James in the U.S., on Repucom’s Celebrity DBI, which tracks consumer perceptions of celebrities based on awareness, as well as seven attributes. Her 89% awareness level ranks in the top 3% of the nearly 4,000 celebrities Repucom follows, and she scores highly on the aspiration and influence attributes in particular.

Williams added a new deal with JPMorgan Chase JPM +0.99% last year to be one of the faces of Chase ’s Mastery campaign, which highlights the bank’s digital products. “There are a number of factors we take into consideration as we’re evaluating potential partnerships. Serena’s excellence on court, her work in the community and her following in pop culture are a few things that set her apart and are complementary to our brand,” says Frank Nakano, head of Sports and Entertainment for JPMorgan Chase.

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