Tennis: Osaka tops Forbes list of highest-earning female athletes

Osaka withdrew from the French Open in 2021 and took a break from competitive tennis to focus on her mental health. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Japan's Naomi Osaka, a four-times Grand Slam tennis champion who has helped raise awareness of mental health issues in sport, is the world's highest-paid female athlete, according to a list published by business magazine Forbes on Thursday (Jan 13).

Osaka raked in US$57.3 million (S$77 million) in prize money and endorsements over the last year, nearly all of which came from an endorsement portfolio that has added more than 10 brand partners over the last year and a half.

The list was published after a year in which Osaka withdrew from the French Open to focus on her mental health amid a public row over mandatory press conferences at the Grand Slam, saying they took too great a toll on her mental wellbeing.

Fellow tennis players Serena Williams (US$45.9 million) and older sister Venus (US$11.3 million) were next on the list.

American gymnast Simone Biles (US$10.1 million) and Spanish tennis player Garbine Muguruza (US$8.8 million) rounded out the top five.

Tennis players made up five of the list's 10 spots, which Forbes said marked the sport's lowest tally in more than a decade and a dramatic change from 2019 when it claimed all 10.

Collectively, the 10 highest-paid female athletes earned a total of US$166.6 million, which Forbes said was a 23 per cent increase over its 2020 list.

South Korean golfer Ko Jin-young (US$7.5 million), Indian badminton player PV Sindhu (US$7.2 million), world number one tennis player Ash Barty (US$6.9 million), golfer Nelly Korda (US$5.9 million) and basketball player Candace Parker (US$5.7 million) were the other athletes in the top 10.

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