Serena Williams Earned a $55 Million Payday for Endorsing an Athletic Apparel Giant

Famous athletes draw a lot of attention for their physical prowess and impressive skills on the court or field. Many of the best and most attention-grabbing are rewarded for their unique talents with hefty paychecks that give them astonishing net worths.

The active window of an athlete’s career is typically shorter than many other fields, however, so it’s important for sports stars to capitalize on their fame as quickly and effectively as they can. Many athletes pad their considerable earnings with endorsement deals. 

Serena Williams — easily one of the most successful and recognizable athletes in the world — is able to command top dollar for her endorsements, but even with that impressive standing, her $55 million deal with an athletic apparel company stands out as particularly lucrative. 

Serena Williams has risen to fame with an inspiring story

Serena Williams attends Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Ceremony 2015 at Pier 60
Serena Williams | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

RELATED: Serena Williams’ Favorite Sweat-proof Eyeliner Is a $6 Drugstore Cult-Favorite

Serena Williams is half of an impressive sister duo that took the tennis world by storm.

Serena and Venus Williams grew up in Compton, a suburb of Los Angeles. Under the supportive guidance of their father, they began training in tennis at a very young age. That dedication and hard work — as well as family sacrifice and focus — paid off in a big way. The sisters would go on to dominate the sport throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s. 

Since then, Serena Williams in particular has continued her impressive rise to the top. From 2016 to 2019, she earned the title of the world’s highest paid female athlete.

Even though she has fallen to second — behind fellow tennis player Naomi Osaka — in 2020 Williams continues to rack up impressive pay through high-profile performances and endorsement deals. 

Serena Williams has had several endorsement deals

RELATED: Serena Williams and Sister Venus Credit Their Life to Their Role Model Older Sisters

Serena Williams has earned a staggering $90 million through tournament earnings alone, but she’s so savvy with her money that she sometimes forgets to even pick up those paychecks! “I never, never picked it up, so at the end of the year, the tournament directors would literally hand me the check because I would never go get it,” Williams explained.

When she did get paid, she didn’t go on a spending spree. Instead, she put that money in the bank where it could continue to accrue interest and make her even wealthier. 

It isn’t just tournaments that have paid out for Williams, however. Her ascent to the top of the sport and her inspiring story of hard work has made her an excellent candidate for endorsement deals. Companies like Gatorade, Pepsi, and Puma have all partnered with the tennis elite in the past. 

1 endorsement deal stands out from the rest for Serena Williams

Working with such recognizable and wealthy brands has certainly helped build Williams’ considerable portfolio, but there is one deal that stands out from the rest. In 2003, Williams inked an agreement with Nike that landed her a $55 million paycheck. 

According to Yahoo! Finance, there were some contingencies to the contract, but with that much money riding on the line, Williams was sure to work hard to meet them. That amount dwarfs Nike’s endorsement deal with golf star Michelle Wie (which was for $4 million to 5 million a year).

Clearly, Nike saw the potential of partnering with such an impressive athlete whose fame has been so stable year after year. While Williams may not be quite as big of a headline grabber as she was at the height of her career, she has continued to impress fans — and build her bank account along the way.