While the salaries in women’s sports lag behind those in men’s sports across the board, professional tennis has created more wealth for its women players than any other sport. The women who are at the top of their game on the WTA Tour have collected paychecks that rival the top players in men’s tennis — even if they still haven’t quite matched them.
As of June 2021, these are the women’s tennis stars that have earned the most prize money in WTA Tour history. These players span eras and nationalities, but all of them rank among the best to ever play the game.
30. Elena Dementieva
Career Winnings: $14.86 million
While she never earned the title of Grand Slam champion, Russia’s Elena Dementieva counts two Olympic medals in singles play among her accolades, including a gold medal from the 2008 Beijing games. On the WTA Tour, the 5-foot-11-inch star won 16 singles titles, six doubles titles and reached a career-high ranking of No. 3 worldwide. In 2004, Dementieva came the closest she ever would to winning a major championship when she finished runner-up at the French Open and U.S. Open, losing to a fellow countrywoman in each final.
29. Monica Seles
Career Winnings: $14.89 million
Former world No. 1 Monica Seles is one of several icons on this list who debuted more than 30 years ago but amassed enough prize money to still rank alongside current stars of the sport. The native of the former Yugoslavia dominated the game in the early 1990s, winning an astounding nine Grand Slam singles titles between 1990 and 1996, only missing out on Wimbledon for the career Grand Slam.
In 1991 alone, Seles won the Australian Open, French Open, U.S. Open and WTA Tour Finals, as well as leading Yugoslavia to the Hopman Cup crown, for one of the most dominant single seasons ever.
28. Amélie Mauresmo
Career Winnings: $15 million
Hall of Famer Amélie Mauresmo was atop the women’s tennis world in the middle part of the early 2000s, after winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. Her immense career earnings are particularly impressive when you realize that she retired in 2009, when she was just 30 years old. Mauresmo won 25 singles titles on the WTA Tour and became the first French tennis player to reach No. 1 in the world rankings in 2004.
27. Ana Ivanovic
Career Winnings: $15.5 million
Like Mauresmo, Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic left the game young — retiring before her 30th birthday — but still became one of the wealthiest players in history. Ivanovic’s 15 career singles titles pale in comparison to others on this list, but the list of opponents she toppled on the court at some point includes virtually every women’s tennis icon of the past 30 years. Her best season came in 2008, when she rose to the top of the world rankings, won the French Open and reached the finals at the Australian Open.
26. Sloane Stephens
Career Winnings: $15.7 million
She’s only been a pro player for about a decade, but Florida native Sloane Stephens already finds herself among the top earners in WTA Tour history. She put the entire tennis world on notice in 2013, when she knocked off Serena Williams at the Australian Open at the age of 19. Her long Grand Slam title so far came at the 2017 U.S. Open, where she took down elites like Venus Williams and Ashleigh Barty on her way to the crown. Stephens has battled injury and form issues in recent years, but still has plenty of time to add to her six career tournament victories.
25. Li Na
Career Winnings: $16.7 million
It’s tough to believe that before Li Na won the 2011 French Open, no Asian tennis player of any gender had ever won a major championship. That victory made Na a sensation in her native China and her fame only grew when she took the crown at the 2014 Australian Open. On top of the Grand Slam victories, she won seven other WTA Tour singles events and more than 500 singles matches. In 2019, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame — another first for a player from Asia.
24. Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
Career Winnings: $16.9 million
Versatility was the secret to Arantxa Sánchez Vicario’s stack of prize money from her WTA Tour career, as she racked up nearly 100 victories between singles and doubles play. The Spaniard won a remarkable 16 Grand Slam titles across those styles of play from 1989-2000, four coming in singles, four in mixed doubles and six in women’s doubles. On the singles side, she won the French Open three times, including in 1994, a dominant season that also saw her win the U.S. Open and appear in the finals at the Australian Open. Is it any wonder she locked up the No. 1 ranking in the mid-1990s?
23. Ashleigh Barty
Career Winnings: $18.6 million
Standing at just 5 feet 5 inches tall, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty is one of the shortest players to ever reach the elite level of tennis stardom. Her money is very tall, however, as she’s earned more than $18 million in WTA Tour winnings before her 26th birthday. Barty turned pro in 2010 and has won 11 singles titles since then, including a breakout 2019 championship at the French Open. She has yet to reach the finals at any of the other three Grand Slam events but it’s likely only a matter of time for the player who was ranked No. 1 in the world as of this writing.
22. Jelena Janković
Career Winnings: $19 million
Serbia’s Jelena Janković topped the global women’s tennis rankings in 2008, a season that saw her as a fixture in major matches. That year, she made the finals at the U.S. Open and the semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open, although a Grand Slam singles championship has so far eluded her. Janković did capture the mixed doubles crown at Wimbledon in 2007 alongside Jamie Murray for arguably the most impressive piece of hardware in her trophy case. Contributing to her $19 million of WTA Tour earnings are more than 600 singles match victories and 15 singles event titles.
21. Samantha Stosur
Career Winnings: $19.1 million
Known more for her dominance in doubles play, Australia’s Samantha Stosur has nonetheless had plenty of success in the one-on-one game as well. In 2011, she became a national hero after knocking off Serena Williams in straight sets to win the U.S. Open, becoming the first Aussie woman to take that crown since the legendary Margaret Court in 1973. Stosur has yet to win another Grand Slam singles title, but she’s won six more in doubles, part of her 26 career WTA Tour doubles titles so far.
20. Naomi Osaka
Career Winnings: $19.7 million
Between her advocacy on behalf of marginalized people, her transparency about mental health issues and her status as a fashion icon, Naomi Osaka is one of the brightest stars in tennis today. None of that takes into account her brilliant play, which has already made her one of the 20 richest winners in WTA Tour history at the age of 23.
The Japanese phenom has tallied seven singles event victories in her young career, four of which have remarkably come at Grand Slam tournaments. From 2018-2021, she’s won at least one major title each season, taking the Australian Open and U.S. Open crowns twice each.
19. Elina Svitolina
Career Winnings: $20.3 million
Along with Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka, Ukrainian player Elina Svitolina is a rising star who has plenty of time to climb even higher on this list. A Grand Slam title has eluded Svitolina thus far — as well as even a finals appearance at one of the four majors — but in 2018 she came back from a set down against Sloane Stephens to win the WTA Tour Finals. The former world No. 3 has 15 singles championships on her record so far, more than either Barty or Osaka, and a mountain of prize money.
18. Karolína Plíšková
Career Winnings: $20.82 million
The Czech Republic’s Karolína Plíšková is another current star player who has yet to capture a Grand Slam trophy, but she’s still done plenty of winning on WTA Tour courts. She’s won more than 550 singles matches so far and counts 16 singles event titles to her credit, including two at WTA 1000 tournaments. She reached world No. 1 status in 2017, a season that saw her win three events.
17. Justine Henin
Career Winnings: $20.86 million
Justine Henin was deadly on every surface, but she was truly a master of the clay. During her run of dominance in the early 2000s, Henin helped put Belgium on the map as a tennis powerhouse. Between 2003 and 2007, she won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four at the French Open. Wimbledon was the only major tournament she never captured, although she appeared in the finals twice, losing in three sets to other women on this list each time. The Hall of Famer won 43 singles tournaments overall and took home the gold medal in singles play at the 2004 Olympics.
16. Martina Navratilova
Career Winnings: $21.6 million
Despite having retired from professional tennis 15 years ago, the legendary Martina Navratilova still easily ranks among the top money winners in WTA Tour history, even when the figures aren’t adjusted for inflation. Her career achievements are beyond reproach, most notably that she’s one of only three tennis players (male or female) in history to achieve the so-called Grand Slam “boxed set,” which includes victories at all four major tournaments in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In singles alone, the native Czech won 18 Grand Slam trophies, including a record nine at Wimbledon and six of those consecutively from 1982-1987.
15. Garbiñe Muguruza
Career Winnings: $21.7 million
It’s crazy to think that a player who’s only won 13 WTA Tour titles so far can have surpassed Martina Navratilova on the career earnings list, but it goes to show how much more lucrative the sport is now for women in tennis. Of those tournaments won by Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza, eight were in singles play and a pair of Grand Slam championships are included. When the 6-footer smoked Serena Williams in the final match at the 2016 French Open, some writers called her the “heir apparent” to the American legend’s throne.
14. Steffi Graf
Career Winnings: $21.8 million
Another long-retired icon of the sport who amassed a remarkable bankroll was Germany’s Steffi Graf. Until Serena Williams came along, she was considered arguably the best big-match singles player in women’s tennis history, winning 22 Grand Slam titles from 1987-1999, then the record for the Open Era. In 1988, she put on a display of dominance not since seen in men’s or women’s tennis by winning all four Grand Slam events on the calendar as well as the gold medal in singles play at the Seoul Olympics.
13. Lindsay Davenport
Career Winnings: $22.1 million
At one point, Hall of Famer Lindsay Davenport was the top-earning player in WTA Tour history, but she lost that crown in 2009, a year before her retirement. The California native, who stands at taller than 6 feet 2 inches, won 93 WTA events in her career, including 55 in singles play. Three of those came at Grand Slam events and one came at the Tour Finals during a run of dominance she had at the end of the 1990s, when she first topped the world rankings. Davenport won another three Grand Slam titles and three more Tour Finals events in doubles, as well as the gold medal in singles play at the 1996 Olympics.
12. Kim Clijsters
Career Winnings: $24.5 million
Along with the aforementioned Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters helped make Belgium the center of the women’s tennis universe in the early 2000s. Clijsters’ 41 career singles titles rank slightly behind Henin’s tally, but she easily has the edge in prize money. She won four Grand Slam singles titles, two Grand Slam doubles titles and three WTA Tour Finals tournaments during her Hall-of-Fame career.
11. Martina Hingis
Career Winnings: $24.7 million
Before a guy named Roger Federer came along, Martina Hingis was the best tennis export Switzerland had ever produced. The Hall of Famer exploded onto the world stage as only a prodigy can, winning the 1997 Australian Open shortly after turning 16, becoming the youngest player in history, regardless of gender, to win a Grand Slam tournament. She dominated most of the WTA Tour schedule that season, winning three of the four Grand Slams and reaching the finals at the French Open.
In total, Hingis would win 25 Grand Slam events across singles, doubles and mixed doubles, with a singles title at the French Open being the only one of the boxed set to elude her.
10. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Career Winnings: $25.6 million
The top 10 richest earners in WTA Tour prize money begins with a player whose list of accolades might seem a bit meager compared to others on the list. Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova turned pro in 2000, but counts just two Grand Slam singles titles and another in doubles to her name since then. Overall, she’s won 18 WTA Tour singles tournaments and climbed as high as No. 2 in the world rankings. Her immense earnings stem partly from the fact that Kuznetsova has won more than 900 WTA matches in singles and doubles.
9. Agnieszka Radwańska
Career Winnings: $27.6 million
Despite having surgical accuracy and ranking among the elite earners in women’s tennis history, retired Polish star Agnieszka Radwańska left some major stones unturned on the WTA Tour. For one, she never surpassed No. 2 in the world rankings despite being one of the most dominant players of the first half of the 2010s. A major reason she never topped the list is because Radwańska never won a Grand Slam title and only reached the finals a single time. However, she did win the WTA Tour Finals in 2015 and tallied 20 tournament crowns in singles play.
8. Angelique Kerber
Career Winnings: $30 million
Surpassing $30 million in career prize money from the WTA Tour has only become a reality in the past decade and German lefty Angelique Kerber is one of eight women to have done it. The silver medalist from the 2016 Olympics ascended to the top of the global rankings that same year, following wins at the Australian Open and U.S. Open. Two years later, Kerber would add another Grand Slam title to her record by knocking off Serena Williams in straight sets at Wimbledon. In all, she’s won 12 WTA singles titles so far and her pursuit of a French Open title to complete the career Grand Slam isn’t over.
7. Victoria Azarenka
Career Winnings: $32.5 million
Nearly a decade after turning pro at the age of 14, Belarusian star Victoria Azarenka reached the top of the women’s tennis world for the first time. She hit No. 1 in the global rankings in 2012, days after mowing down Maria Sharapova in straight sets to win her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Azarenka would repeat as champion at that tournament in 2013 and has reached the finals at the U.S. Open three times, including in 2020, but has yet to win another Grand Slam event. No matter, as her 21 career singles titles have made her one of the richest players in WTA Tour history.
6. Petra Kvitová
Career Winnings: $32.9 million
Despite a whopping 28 career singles titles in WTA Tour events, including some of the biggest tournaments on tour, Petra Kvitová has never climbed past No. 2 in the world rankings. The 6-footer from the Czech Republic broke out during the 2011 season, when she won Wimbledon for the first of two times in her career. Kvitová also took home the WTA Tour Finals crown in 2011, outplaying six other women from this list to win it.
5. Caroline Wozniacki
Career Winnings: $35.2 million
One of the biggest women’s tennis stars of the past decade, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki stunned many by retiring in 2020 at the age of 29. An ongoing battle with rheumatoid arthritis was to blame for her premature departure from the sport, but she still left quite the mark on the WTA Tour while active. Wozniacki won 30 singles titles on tour in the span of about 15 years, including the 2018 Australian Open crown, her lone Grand Slam championship. Despite her lack of success at the majors, she reached No. 1 in the world in 2010 and will likely end up in the Hall of Fame.
4. Simona Halep
Career Winnings: $37.5 million
Beloved in her home country of Romania, Simona Halep could easily climb into the top two of this ranking before her career is over. She’s already spent more than seven consecutive years ranked among the world’s top 10 players — a distinction that puts her in elite company — and has been ranked No. 1 multiple times. Halep has earned 22 WTA Tour singles titles so far, including two Grand Slam championships since 2018. It’s unlikely that Halep’s game will be falling off anytime soon.
3. Maria Sharapova
Career Winnings: $38.7 million
If not for the buzzsaw that was Serena Williams in her prime, Maria Sharapova’s already impressive legacy could’ve been even more immense. The 6-foot-2-inch Russian tennis icon was 3-20 in her career against Williams in head-to-head meetings, but prevailed in a huge way at Wimbledon in 2004, where Sharapova won her first Grand Slam. She would win four more Grand Slam singles titles from there, including two at the French Open, where she completed the career Grand Slam. Sharapova won 39 WTA Tour events overall, 36 of which were in singles play, and left a legacy few modern players can contend with.
2. Venus Williams
Career Winnings: $42 million
While many players on this list hung up their rackets in their 20s, California native Venus Williams is still contending nearly 30 years after she turned pro in 1994. That longevity has made her one of the wealthiest players in WTA Tour history and one of only two to surpass the $40 million milestone in prize money. With more than 800 singles match victories and 49 singles event titles under her belt, the elder Williams sister’s career will send her straight to the Hall of Fame whenever she decides it’s over.
Among those wins are seven Grand Slam championships, a WTA Tour Finals crown and an incredible four Olympic gold medals, three of which came in doubles alongside the final player on our list.
1. Serena Williams
Career Winnings: $94.2 million
When Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open, she surpassed Steffi Graf in arguably the most important metric by which tennis greatness is measured: Grand Slam titles. It was the Michigan native’s 23rd career Grand Slam crown, a number that may be forever unmatched in the Open Era. Williams’ ridiculous stack of prize money is also likely to be unmatched in women’s tennis at any time in the near future, especially because she continues to add to it. All the way back in 2009, she became the wealthiest woman in professional sports history, in terms of prize winnings, and has never looked back.