Serena Williams has classy response to Maria Sharapova’s endorsements edge

Serena Williams has an edge over Maria Sharapova on the court, but that doesn't carry over to endorsements. 

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Serena Williams, the current world No. 1 and winningest active player on the WTA tour, faces a huge disparity in earnings between her and world No. 2 Maria Sharapova. According to a report from Forbes, Williams made $24.6 million in prize money and endorsements from June 2014 to June 2015 while Sharapova made $29.7 million.

OK, so that income differential could be seen as negligible, since both are multimillionaires, but there’s an underlying factor causing that difference which speaks volumes.

The difference comes from endorsements. 

On the court, Williams has earned three times as much as Sharapova. Williams holds an 18-2 career edge over Sharapova and has made $9.7 million in prize money this season, compared to Sharapova’s $3.2 million. 

Off the court, companies prefer Sharapova. Earlier this summer, the London School of Marketing released its list of the most marketable athletes in the world. Sharapova and Williams were the only two women to crack the Top 20, with Sharapova ranking No. 12 while Williams — the woman on the cusp of a winning a calendar Grand Slam, a tennis feat which has not been accomplished since 1988 — ranked No. 20.

Nobody offered an official reason for the difference in income between Sharapova and Williams, but it’s clear success on the court has nothing to do with it. If Williams deserves more endorsements because of her wins, companies are not following suit. 


But when the New York Times asked about the discrepancy, Williams took the high road. 

"If they want to market someone who is white and blond, that’s their choice,” Williams said. "I have a lot of partners who are very happy to work with me. I can’t sit here and say I should be higher on the list because I have won more. I’m happy for [Sharapova], because she worked hard, too. There is enough at the table for everyone."

Williams also paid tribute to those who paved the way before her, and said she can only hope to provide more positive momentum for the black athletes of the future.

"We have to be thankful, and we also have to be positive about it so the next black person can be No. 1 on that list," Williams added. "Maybe it was not meant to be me. Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing, and I’m just opening the door. Zina Garrison, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and Venus opened so many doors for me. I’m just opening the next door for the next person."