SportsPro has released its list of 50 of the most marketable athletes, and Serena Williams is second after Cristiano Ronaldo.
I am not retired. The chances [of me returning] are very high. You can come to my house and [see] I have a court. Serena Williams
The 13th edition of the list helps companies decide on which athletes to hire as the face of their brands.
Athletes are ranked according to a ‘Marketability Score’, which is split into three distinct scoring components – brand strength, economics and audience.
Designed to accurately evaluate an athlete’s marketability, the ranking is not just based on social media followers or reach, but also takes into account an athlete’s social impact, charitable endeavours and influence on the triple bottom line.
Ronaldo was named the most marketable athlete after commanding a ‘marketability score’ of 91.21 out of a possible 100, and he is some way clear of Williams, who is in second place, and 7-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton in third.
The Manchester United star is considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of football and has become one of the biggest stars in the world, currently boasting the most Instagram followers of anyone on the planet at 489 million.
Also on the list among the 8 other tennis players featured are Naomi Osaka, Emma Raducanu, and Rafael Nadal.
The ranking methodology has been developed by London based SportsProMedia Limited in partnership with NorthStar Solutions Group and is ‘devised to paint the most complete picture of athlete marketability in the sports industry, combining on-field performance and off-field factors, such as personal brand development, audience reach and engagement, and social impact’.
The new retired Williams, who won 23 Grand Slams, comes in with a score of 67.99, the list having been compiled before she retired, while Hamilton scored 64.58.
It seems, though, that Williams may not be done playing after stating at a TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco this week: “I am not retired.
“The chances [of me returning] are very high. You can come to my house and [see] I have a court.”
After playing very few matches over the past year due to injury, Williams announced in August that she is ‘evolving away from tennis’, indicating that the US Open was likely to be her last professional tournament.
Although she received a brilliant send-off in New York, she has dropped several hints since that she could well return.
“I didn’t even think about the whole retirement,” she said. “I still haven’t really thought about it.
“But I did go on the court the other day and [realised] for the first time in my life that I’m not playing for a competition, and that felt very weird.
“It was like the first day of the rest of my life, and so far, I am enjoying it. But I’m still trying to find that balance.”
The rich lists and most-famous lists are often dominated by men but, incredibly, 4 female tennis players are in the Top 20 alongside Nadal, the first men’s player sitting at No 16, while only the Big Three of Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic feature in the Top 50.
Four-time major champion Naomi Osaka is in the Top 10 at No 6, with a score of 51.62 despite not winning any titles this year.
The Japanese star’s last title win came at the 2021 Australian Open in 2021.
The 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, who has slipped down the WTA Rankings after failing to defend her crown at Flushing Meadows, is at No 12 on the list, with two-time major champion Simona Halep at No 15.
20-time Grand Slam winner Federer (No 23), former World No 1 Garbiñe Muguruza (30), 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu (32) and 21-time major champion Novak Djokovic (46) also make the list this year.
“Who is the most marketable athlete on the planet today?” Michael Long, Editorial Director at SportsPro, said. “We at SportsPro have asked ourselves that very question every year since 2010, and each year the process of answering it provides a fascinating snapshot of the business of athlete marketing.
“Marketability can be defined in many ways, but what’s clear from our in-depth assessment is that each of the athletes in this year’s diverse list delivers considerable value to their brand partners.
“Not only are they elite, highly visible performers in their respective sports, their individual reach and influence and, in many cases, willingness to speak out on social issues positions them as ideal ambassadors for companies seeking to communicate authentically to consumers.”
To view the full list of the World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes, head over to SportsPro’s dedicated 50MM content hub at www.sportspro50mm.com.