For the first time since 2010, no female athletes merited a spot in the magazine’s top 100 — a stark reminder that gender pay disparity is very much alive in the sports industry.
Last year, tennis pro Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, but her 14-month hiatus due to the birth of her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, prevented her from pocketing enough in salary, bonuses and other earnings to land a top spot.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion placed 51st on the 2017 list, taking home an estimated $27 million. And although she raked in $18 million in sponsorship fees off the court through Nike, Gatorade, Beats and more brands in the past year, that figure still puts her below Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Nicolas Batum, who collected $22.9 million.
With a pectoral muscle injury forcing her to withdraw from the French Open, it remains unclear whether Williams will be able to play at the Wimbledon Championships in July.
Forbes, which also factors in prize money and endorsement deals, had Floyd Mayweather Jr. in first place. The boxer grossed $285 million in a year that saw a buzzed-about match with UFC fighter Conor McGregor, who was fourth on the list with earnings of $99 million. Barcelona forward Lionel Messi scored $111 million to rank No. 2, seeing rival Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo dropping from his top spot to third place with $108 million. Brazilian footballer Neymar Da Silva Santos Júnior generated $90 million to round out the top five.
Other women who have made the list include Maria Sharapova, who dropped from it after her 15-month doping suspension, and Chinese tennis player Li Na, who retired in 2014.
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