MARIA SHARAPOVA "has topped the Forbes list of best-paid female athletes for the ninth-straight year," raking in $29M over the last 12 months. The past 12 months have been the 26-year-old's most successful in six years as she "completed the career Grand Slam with the 2012 French Open title and reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open and the 2013 Australian Open." Tennis players "dominate the Forbes list," with world No. 1 SERENA WILLIAMS in second place with $20.5M in total earnings, China's LI NA in third with $18.2M and Belarus' VICTORIA AZARENKA fourth with $15.7M. NASCAR driver DANICA PATRICK "is the first competitor from outside the world of tennis to appear," earning $15M for fifth place, while South Korean figure skater KIM YUNA is sixth with $14M (R-SPORT, 8/6). ... National Rugby League Cronulla captain PAUL GALLEN "declined to comment on reports that his mobile phone had been seized and data from it downloaded by Customs when he returned home from Auckland on Sunday" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/7). ... Seria A Palermo Sporting Dir NICOLA AMORUSO's tenure "is over after less than three months with the outfit." Palermo said that "he has rescinded his contract for personal reasons" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 8/6). ... Egyptian footballer MOHAMED SALAH will join the Football Club Basel for its Champions League qualifying game against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday after "first refusing for political reasons." Salah: "In my thoughts I am going to play in Palestine and not Israel, and I am also going to score and win there. The Zionist flag won’t be shown in the Champions League" (JERUSALEM POST, 8/6). ... LIONEL MESSI, CRISTIANO RONALDO, and Bayern Munich's FRANCK RIBÉRY are the finalists for UEFA's '12-13 European Player of the Year award. The winner will be announced on Aug. 29 (AS, 8/6). ... Int'l Tennis Federation Honorary Life VP EIICHI KAWATEI has died. Kawatei, "who worked with the ITF for over 30 years," passed away on Aug. 3 at the age of 79 (ISPORTCONNECT, 8/6). ... Former England player MICHAEL OWEN "has been named as a brand ambassador of virtual stock market game Football Shokx." Owen's appointment comes as the game launches for the '13-14 season on Android and iOS (THE DRUM, 8/5). ... Panama's world boxing champion GUILLERMO "EL FELINO" JONES Monday "denied accusations he resorted to drugs to gain an advantage in his fight" against Russia's DENIS LEBEDEV in May (XINHUA, 8/6). ... British Olympic Bronze Medalist BETH TWEDDLE on Tuesday "confirmed her retirement from gymnastics with immediate effect." A year to the day after winning Olympic bronze in the uneven bars, the 28-year-old from Cheshire became the latest London 2012 British medalist "to call time on her career" (PA, 8/6). ... F1 driver MARK WEBBER has finally managed to get one over rival SEBASTIAN VETTEL "after beating his Red Bull team-mate in Top Gear's reasonably-priced car challenge." The veteran F1 driver, "who is retiring from the sport at the end of the season, was almost one second quicker than Vettel," but just shy of LEWIS HAMILTON's best time in the BBC program (London DAILY MAIL, 8/6). ... Oscar-nominated actor GERARD DEPARDIEU "has finally returned to France" for a three-week shoot of historical football script "F2014," in which he will play FIFA Founder JULES RIMET. Following Paris, the shoot will move to Switzerland and Brazil, "aiming for a release to coincide with the World Cup in Brazil" in '14. "F2014" is directed by FREDERIC AUBERTIN ("Paris, je t'aime") and produced by French company Leuviah-Films (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 8/5). ... U.K. TV networks company ITV said Tuesday that its channel ITV2 "has ordered a travel reality show" featuring Olympic diver TOM DALEY. The show, from production firms Twofour and GroupM Entertainment, has the working title "Tom Daley Takes on the World" and will follow "the traveling adventures of the diving sensation as he embarks on a whistle-stop backpacking trip" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 8/6).
IMPACT OF BALE RUMORS: EPL Tottenham's GARETH BALE, who is currently the subject of rumors he will leave the club to sign with Real Madrid, "has received a death threat made by a fan" as a consequence of his possible signing with Real Madrid. Someone "made an anonymous call to Tottenham's practice facilities making a death threat directed at Bale." Bale was not in the building, but Tottenham "has taken urgent measures and increased the security around the team" (AS, 8/6). An image of Bale wearing a Tottenham shirt in a giant ad in N.Y.'s Times Square as part of a promotion for U.S. channel NBC, which owns the U.S. rights to the Premier League, "no longer exists." It was replaced by a poster featuring the word "Soccer" to advertise NBC's broadcasting deal (MARCA, 8/6). Gareth Bale has been removed from Tottenham's official Twitter account page in a move that "will only intensify speculation over his future" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/6).