Sharapova heads list of top paid female athletes: Forbes

Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:05pm EDT

Russia's Maria Sharapova returns to Israel's Shahar Peer in their women's singles tennis match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympics Games July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Russia's Maria Sharapova returns to Israel's Shahar Peer in their women's singles tennis match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympics Games July 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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(Reuters) - French Open champion Maria Sharapova held her perch atop the list of the world's highest paid women in professional sports for an eighth consecutive year, according to an annual survey released by Forbes on Monday.

The 25-year-old Russian, one of seven tennis players listed in the top 10, earned an estimated $27.1 million from July 2011-July 2012, with most of that coming from off-court endorsements.

That was 47 percent above her nearest rival Li Na of China, whose 2011 French Open victory helped the world number 11 to more than double her earnings to $18.4 million from $8 million in last year's survey.

Former world number one tennis players Serena Williams ($16.3 million) of the United States and Caroline Wozniacki ($13.7 million) of Denmark and NASCAR's Danica Patrick ($13 million) rounded out the top five.

Current world number one tennis player Victoria Azarenka ($9.7 million) of Belarus, Ana Ivanovic ($7.2 million) of Serbia and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska ($6.9 million) were the other tennis players among the top 10.

Women's Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na of South Korea was seventh with $9 million of earnings while Taiwanese world number one golfer Yani Tseng was 10th with $6.1 million.

Top five women earners

1. Maria Sharapova, tennis, $27.1 million

2. Li Na, tennis, $18.4 million

3. Serena Williams, tennis, 16.3 million

4. Caroline Wozniacki, tennis, $13.7 million

5. Danica Patrick, motor racing, $13 million

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(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Mark Meadows)

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