Women and Sport

Most marketable female athletes

Most marketable female athletes

The Celebrity David Brown Index (DBI) is a tool which sports marketers use to understand the public’s perceptions of over 7,000 personalities representing the views of over 1.5 billion people. It provides insights into specific demographics including age and income groups to give a clear picture of how audiences perceive a personality or athlete. These perceptions are measured against eight key attributes which, when combined together, give an overview of that person’s marketability. The DBI is displayed on a scale from 0 to 100 points with 100 points being the highest mark to attain.

Marta Vieira da Silva

Date of Birth: 19 February 1986
Birthplace: Dois Riachos, Alagoas, Brazil

Marta Vieira da Silva, commonly known by her first name, is one of the most talented female football players and tops the all-time Women’s World Cup goal scorer list alongside German legend Birgit Prinz. At the 2007 Women’s World Cup, Marta won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot awards. Marta was named FIFA World Player of the Year five consecutive times between 2006 and 2010. The 28-year old currently plays for FC Rosengård in Sweden. With 97.4 per cent of people knowing Marta in Brazil, it is no surprise that “Pele with skirts” features in Puma’s “Forever Faster” campaign with Usain Bolt and Mario Balotelli and is the most marketable female athlete in her home country

Lorena Ochoa

Date of Birth: 15 November 1981
Birthplace: Guadalajara, Mexico

Ochoa is considered the best Mexican golfer in the history of the sport and was the top-ranked female golfer in the world for over three years, from April 2007 until her retirement in May 2010 aged 28. The Mexican golf prodigy won the 2006 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award. In 2007, it was widely reported that Ochoa became the first woman ever to earn more than US$ four million in a single season, surpassing Annika Sörenstam’s previous record of US$ 2,863,904. With sponsorship deals including Banamex, Lacoste, Rolex, PING, Grand Coral and E pura, prestigious and recognised brands have been part of Ochoa’s illustrious career.

Venus Williams

Date of Birth: 17 June 1980
Birthplace: Lynwood, California, USA

Venus Williams is the most marketable female athlete in the US. She became the fi rst African-American women’s world tennis number one in February 2002 and took the women’s game to new heights with more power and athleticism. Although with 43 singles titles, 19 doubles titles and four Olympic gold medals, Venus is less successful than her younger sister, she is more popular than Serena in the US and recognised by nearly 90 per cent of all Americans. Venus wears her own brand “Eleven by Venus” at tournaments and her racquet sponsor is Wilson. She has nearly two million fans on Facebook and is approaching 1.2 million followers on Twitter.

Laure Manadou

Date of Birth: 9 October 1986
Birthplace: Rhône, France

French Olympic, World and European Champion swimming sensation Laure Manadou enjoyed a successful career winning three medals at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games including a gold medal in the women’s 400-metre freestyle, France’s first gold medal in the history of women’s swimming. The 28-year old went from the pool to motherhood in 2010 and welcomed daughter Manon. With a colossal 96.6 per cent of awareness in France, Laure is a French icon and has sponsorship deals with Re ebok and local French sponsors mondial piscine, envido and Topsec.


Date of Birth: 10 August 1977
Birthplace: Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina

Luciana Aymar is often cited as the best female hockey player in history and the only player to receive the prestigious International Hockey Federation Player of the Year Award a record eight times. At the London 2012 Olympics, she led Argentina to silver and became the second Argentine to achieve four Olympic medals. With her remarkable dribblingskills and pace, Aymar is often likened to Argentinian football icon Diego Maradona and is known by the monikers “El Diego,” “La Maradona del hockey” and “La Maga” (The Magician). Aymar retired in December 2014 in order to spend more time with friends and relatives and start a family of her own.


Date of Birth: 14 June 1969
Birthplace: Mannheim, Germany

Despite retiring over 16 years ago, Steffi Graf is the most marketable female athlete in Germany. With 22 Grand Slam singles titles, she holds the all-time record for most Major wins by a tennis player, male or female, since 1968. In 1988 Graf became the first and only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam singles titles. An Olympic gold medal for Germany completed a tremendous year. She retired in 1999 and married fellow tennis legend Andre Agassi two years later. They reside in Las Vegas with their two children. With an enormous 98.41 per cent of people knowing Graf in Germany, the 45-year old attracts endorsement deals with brands including adidas, Longines, Mrs Sporty, Nintendo and Teekanne.

Date of Birth: 8 February 1987
Birthplace: Bolzano, Italy

Italian figure skater Carolina Kostner followed in the footsteps of her mother Patrizia, a nationally ranked fi gure skater in the 1970s. The multi-lingual ice princess won a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Major titles include being the 2012 World Champion, a fi ve-time European Champion, seven-time Italian Champion and 2011 Grand Prix Final Champion. With 96 per cent of awareness in Italy, Kostner is a household name and attracts sponsorship deals from OVS Active Sport Training, Pompadour, Acqua Norda, Grissinbon and Südtirol – Alto Adige.


Date of Birth: 3 June 1982
Birthplace: Volgograd, Russia

Yelena Isinbaeva is recognised by 95.67 per cent of people in Russia and is the most marketable female athlete in her home country. Isinbaeva originally trained as a gymnast in her native Russia until she was 15 and stopped as she was considered too tall. Only six months after taking up pole vaulting, she won the 1998 World Youth Games in Moscow with a height of 4.00 metres. Ten years later she had two Olympic gold medals under her belt and was a three-time World Champion. With 28 world records, Isinbaeva has established herself as one of the most successful athletes of her generation. She welcomed herfirst daughter in June 2014.


Date of Birth: 10 November 1990
Birthplace: Badalona, Spain

Mireia Belmonte is the first swimmer in Spain’s history to win two Olympic medals after winning silver at London 2012 in the 200-metre butterfly and the 800-metre freestyle. The 24-year old recently broke the world record for the 200-metre butterfly and 200-metre individual medley at the 2014 FINA World Cup series in Doha, Qatar. Belmonte has acquired sponsorship deals with brands including Nike, Speedo, Renault, UCA, EDOX, OHL and PageGroup. She currently has 90,000 fans on Facebook and is even more popular on Twitter with 184,000 followers.


Date of Birth: 19 April 1987
Birthplace: Nyagan, Russia

Sharapova rose to the top of women’s tennis in 2004 aged 17, when she won Wimbledon. The world number one ranking followed in 2005. With 76.2 per cent of people in Turkey knowing Sharapova, she is more popular than local women’s athletics stars Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Elvan Abeylegesse as well as volleyball player Neslihan Darnel. Endorsement deals include evian, Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche. Sharapova is an avid businesswomen and launched “Sugarpova” sweets with flagship stores around the world. The 27-year old reportedly earns in the region of US$ 15 to 20 million in endorsement deals per season.


Date of Birth: 28 January 1986
Birthplace: Sheffield, UK

Jessica Ennis-Hill is the most marketable female athlete in the UK. Undoubtedly winning a gold medal at London 2012 has catapulted her popularity and awareness in her home country. Ennis-Hill is the current British national record holder for the heptathlon and the indoor pentathlon. The British athletics ace’s impressive records and down-to-earth persona have landed her sponsorship deals with adidas, BP, Omega, Powerade, PruHealth, PruProtect, Bank Santander UK and Sky Sports. The value of her endorsement deals combined is one to two million US$ per season. With nearly 1.5 million fans on Facebook and 1.4 million followers on Twitter, Ennis-Hill’s
popularity is set to rise as she combines her track and field career with motherhood.


Date of Birth: 26 September 1981
Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, USA

Although older sister Venus is the most marketable female athlete in the US, Serena is the most marketable in Australia with 94.65 per cent of people recognising the four-time Olympic gold medallist and 18-time Grand Slam champion. Serena became world number one for the first time in July 2002. At 33, she is the oldest world number one in the history of the WTA. With over US$ 63.5 million in prize money, Serena is the highest earning women’s athlete of all-time in all sports. The tennis star attracts sponsors including Nike, Wilson, Gatorade and OPI Products. Her deal with Nike spanning 2004 to 2014 is reportedly worth US$ 55 million and Serena estimatedly earns US$ 10 to 15 million in endorsement deals per season. She is active on social media with over 4.52 million Twitter followers and 2.7 million Facebook fans.


Date of Birth: 15 October 1981
Birthplace: Baoding, Hebei, China

Although Guo retired in 2011, with 96 per cent of awareness in China she remains the most marketable female athlete in her home country. Known as “The Princess of Diving”, with six Olympic medals Guo is tied with her partner Wu Minxia for winning the most Olympic medals of any female diver. After the 2004 Summer Olympics, Guo became a Chinese national sport megastar earning a contract with McDonald’s as well as numerous endorsement deals, which she was made to give up by the national team for excessive commercial activities. Guo married Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, the grandson of the late Hong Kong business tycoon Henry Fok in November 2012.


Date of Birth: 25 September 1990
Birthplace: Nagoya, Japan

Mao Asada greatly increased the popularity of figure skating in Japan and is one of the most recognisable figures in her home country with 99 per cent of awareness. At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Asada became the only female figure skater to land three triple axels in one competition. She is a three-time World Champion, a three-time Four Continents Champion and a four-time Grand Prix Final Champion. During the 2014 Winter Olympics, Asada became the most mentioned athlete of the Olympics on Twitter ahead of Yuna Kim, T. J. Oshie and Shaun White. She has recently taken time off to pursue studies and a broadcasting career.


Date of Birth: 17 March 1990
Birthplace: Hisar, Haryana, India

Badminton starlet Saina Nehwal is the most marketable athlete in her home country India attaining 83.43 per cent of awareness, which is remarkable considering the population of over one billion people. Nehwal won a bronze medal at London 2012, becoming the first Indian to win a medal in badminton at the Olympics. She is the reigning Indian Champion and was ranked second by the Badminton World Federation in December 2010. Nehwal won the 2014 China Open Super Series Premier. She is active on Facebook with over 4.8 million fans.