While the sports-related earnings of professional athletes here in Florida and elsewhere are often significant, whether by way of salary or competition-based compensation, athlete endorsements can often be just as lucrative – if not more so. Based on a recent report, this fact is readily apparent when looking at the highest-earning female athletes in the world.

Coming in on top is tennis player Maria Sharapova, whose overall earnings for the 12 months spanning June 2012-June 2013 totaled $29 million. This eye-popping number includes her winnings from tournaments, appearance fees and endorsements. Some of the companies she represents include Samsung Electronics, Evian, Tag Heuer and Nike.

The second ranked earner on the list was also a tennis player, Serena Williams, who brought in over $20 million during the same time period, a significant portion of which consisted of sponsorship money from companies in the sports industry such as Nike, Gatorade and Wilson. While Sharapova may have earned the most during the last year, Williams tops the career earnings list at about $47 million.

Still, these women do not come close to highest-earning male athlete in the world, Florida resident Tiger Woods, who made just under $80 million.

While all earn high amounts of money specific to their athletic achievements, it is often their sponsorship deals that set them apart. Such sponsorship agreements can be beneficial to both parties, particularly when an athlete is successful in the chosen sport. Sharapova, for example, won the 2012 French Open to complete her career grand slam – and trigger certain bonuses she had negotiated with sponsors to increase her earnings.

Of course, the process of negotiating contracts that maximize their value for both parties may be best managed with the help of experienced sports law attorneys. While not all professional athletes may reach quite the heights seen by Sharapova, Williams or even Tiger Woods, well-crafted agreements can be a major boon to any athletes seeking to increase their exposure and earnings.

Source: Forbes, “Maria Sharapova Tops List Of The World’s Highest-Paid Female Athletes,” Kurt Badenhausen, Aug. 5, 2013