New Delhi: Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has retained her spot as the world's highest earning woman sportsperson. She topped Forbes magazine's annual list for the seventh year in a row.

Surprisingly, seven of the top 10 female earners were tennis players.

Despite struggling with injuries and inconsistent play on tennis court in recent years and her WTA ranking tumbling to a low of No. 126 in 2009, Maria Sharapova earned USD 25 million in the last one year.

But in 2011 Sharapova emerged as a star player and won 80 percent of her matches. She is now ranked No. 5 in the WTA chart and played some aggressive tennis to reach Wimbledon finals in July - her first Grand Slam final in more than three years.

Sharapova has an impressive endorsement portfolio that includes brands like Nike, Head, Evian, Clear Shampoo, Sony Ericsson, Tiffany and Tag Heuer.

The second highest-paid female athlete over the past year is the world’s No. 1 ranked tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark at USD 12.5 million.

She banked USD 6 million in prize money and another USD 6.5 million from sponsors and appearances in different WTA tournaments.

She added deals this year with Yonex, Compeed and Oriflame, but her biggest partner is Adidas which paid out lucrative bonuses in 2010 thanks to her No. 1 year-end ranking.

American racing driver Danica Patrick ranked No. 3 at USD 12 million. Patrick continues to split her time between IndyCar and Nascar’s Nationwide Series.

Her fourth place finish in the Sam’s Town 300 in March was the highest finish ever by a woman in a Nascar race. Rumors are swirling that Patrick will race full-time in Nascar in 2011. A permanent move to Nascar would further boost Patrick’s income.
US tennis star, Venus Williams might be the oldest women in the list but she managed to grab 4th spot in the list with earnings of USD 11.5 million. Apart from the prize money and endorsements she also has her own line of clothing’s.

28-years-old, Kim Clijsters who returned to the tennis circuit after two years of her retirement grabbed 5th spot in the list with USD 11 million in her pocket.

At number six, Serena Williams struggled with life threatening illness and injuries during the last year. She played very little tennis in the past year but managed to earn USD 10.5 million.

20-years-old South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-Na earned USD 10 million to take the seventh spot. She is the reigining Olympics champion and she also had a world championship to her credit.

At number eight is Li Na. She won French Open this year and became the first Chinese player to win a singles Grand Slam event. Her win was seen by 116 million people in China according to the WTA Tour. She earned estimate USD 8 million in the last 12-months.

23-years-old Serbian tennis player, Ana Ivanovic in not winning on tennis court these days but she is in the list at ninth spot with USD six million in her bag.

Last but not the least, 24 years old US golfer Paula Creamer is at 10th place with earnings of USD 5.5 million in last one year.

List of 10 highest-earning female athletes:
•    Maria Sharapova (Russia), Tennis, USD 25 million
•    Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark), Tennis, USD 12.5 million
•    Danica Patrick (US), Nascar, USD 12 million
•    Venus Williams (US), Tennis, USD 11.5 million
•    Kim Clijsters (Belgium), Tennis, USD 11 million
•    Serena Williams (US), Tennis, USD 10.5 million
•    Kim Yu-na(South Korea), Figure Skating, USD 10 million
•    Li Na (China), Tennis, USD 8 million
•    Ana Ivanovic (Serbia), Tennis, USD 6 million
•    Paula Creamer (US), Golf, USD 5.5 million

(JPN/ Tarun Sharda)