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By James Waterson                                    Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

(August 1, 2011) Li Na has been a busy woman since she won the French Open.

Li, the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title, has signed seven endorsement deals worth between $2 million and $3.5 million each annually, according to Bloomberg. All seven contracts last for three years.

That leaves her with contracts worth at least $42 million, which could make her the second-highest earning female athlete in the world behind
Maria Sharapova, who earns $24 million annually in endorsements and prize money, according to Forbes.

Li, who also advanced to the Australian Open final, has already earned $3.1 million in prize money this season.

Two of the companies Li has signed with since the French Open are Mercedes-Benz and Taikang Life Insurance Co., a Chinese insurance company, said Max Eisenbud, Li’s agent, to Bloomberg.

She will wear patches advertising those two companies on her clothing. Her clothing sponsor, Nike, normally doesn’t allow its athletes to wear sponsor patches, but she is an exception.

According to Nigel Currie, director of brandRapport, a sports marketing agency based in London, her appeal is that she can access a previously untapped market.

“Her appeal is that she has the ability to crack the Chinese market, which is such an important and hard market for American and European brands to get into, or to establish a foothold,” Currie said to Bloomberg in an interview.

“The holy grail of marketing on a global scale is to crack the Chinese market,” he said.


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