UFC icon Conor McGregor has offered his congratulations to female tennis stars Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams after both were named in Forbes’ list of the top 50 richest sportspeople for 2021.
McGregor topped the list of athletes, ahead of footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who were second and third respectively. The 33-year-old had boasted in 2016 that he’d overtake Ronaldo as sports highest-paid star and this year’s he’s done just that.
The Irish fighter fought twice in 2021, losing both times via technical knockout to Dustin Poirier. This was enough to see him pocket a healthy $22 million in ‘on-field’ earnings, though this was significantly lower than Messi, who earned $97 million while playing for Barcelona and PSG.
Most of McGregor’s earnings have come from ‘off-field’ endorsements, which include EA Sports, Reebok and Burger King, plus the sale of his whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve.
Meanwhile, Osaka and Williams are the only two women who make the list, with the Japanese star 12th and 23-time major winner Williams 28th.
Osaka’s total of $5 million on-field and $55 million off-field earnings makes her the highest-paid female athlete ever and the only female athlete to crack the top 20.
Given her recent success and list of achievements, it is easy to see why. The 23-year-old was the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam event and the first Asian player to be ranked world number one.
This has led to sponsors including Louis Vuitton, Workday and Tag Heuer flocking to work with the tennis star.
Williams is also continuing to rake in the endorsement deals, despite being almost 40. The former world number one has barely played tennis this year aside from the major tournaments but has earned $40 million from her deals with the likes of Gatorade, Aston Martin and Pepsi.
Both Williams and Osaka have deservedly become two of the world’s most recognised athletes and McGregor took to Twitter to offer his own praise to the pair. The Notorious wrote: “Awesome job ladies,” before tagging both tennis stars.
Both players now look set to spend some time away from competitive tennis. Williams is injured currently and will look to recover before next year as she chases a record-equalling 24th major title.
Osaka, on the other hand, has announced she’ll take some time off for mental health reasons. The four-time Grand Slam winner admitted she was suffering from depression earlier this year and it remains to be seen when we’ll next see the star in action.