Serena Williams has been named the highest paid female athlete by Forbes magazine.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, tops the list for the third year running, despite taking a 14-month break from playing tennis following the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Serena racked in $18.1m (R261m) thanks largely to her endorsement deals, with companies including Nike, Intel and Beats.
Matt Fleming, who runs Marketing Arm – which tracks athletes’ endorsement deals – says, since becoming a mother, Serena has become even more attractive to sponsors.
“She has a lethal combination as the best to play the sport and the story she has with Venus, breaking through as African-American tennis players. Now, as a mother, it adds another layer of attractiveness from a marketers’ standpoint.”
Despite the vast amounts of money Serena earned in the past year, she is still made significantly less than the best paid male, Floyd Mayweather.
The former boxer racked in $285m (R4.1bn), thanks largely to the August 2017 fight versus Conor McGregor in Las Vegas which earned him $275m (R3.9bn).
Second on the list of highest paid female athletes is Australian Open reigning champion, Caorline Wozniacki, who earned $13m (R187m)
She is followed by three other tennis professionals in the top five; Sloane Stephens $11.2m (R161m), Garbiñe Muguruza $11m (R158m) and Maria Sharapova $10.5m (R151m).
The only non-tennis players in the top 10 are Indian badminton star P.V. Sindhu $8.5m (R122m) and racing’s Danica Patrick $7.5m (R108m).