Williams top, Osaka shoots up money charts

NEW YORK • Naomi Osaka's tennis Grand Slam wins in New York and Melbourne have catapulted the Japanese player to second in Forbes' list of the highest-paid female athletes over the past year.

Williams, who lost to Osaka in that US Open final last September, topped the annual list for a fourth consecutive year with an estimated total of US$29.2 million (S$40.4 million), the business magazine said.

Osaka's total income grew to US$24.3 million, driven mainly by her off-court earnings that soared to an estimated US$16 million from US$1.5 million a year ago, but she still missed the cut for Forbes' top 100 best-paid athletes list.

Williams is the only woman to make that list, coming in at No. 63.

Forbes compiled its list, which had its top 10 positions all filled by tennis players, based on prize money, salaries, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees between June 1, 2018 to June 1 this year.

Osaka, 21, is the first Asian to crack the top 10 since China's two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na, who raked in US$23.6 million in 2014, second to only Russian Maria Sharapova that year. South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na, who also made the list multiple times, was fourth in 2014, earning a US$16.3 million pay day after a fruitful Winter Olympics.

American football player Alex Morgan is the highest-placed non-tennis player on the women's list at No. 12, with Forbes putting her total earnings at US$5.8 million.

Morgan's income, which makes her the best-paid female footballer in the world, is dwarfed by that of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who topped Forbes' list of the best-paid athletes over the past year with US$127 million.

The US women's football team, who won a record-extending fourth World Cup this year, have filed a lawsuit against US Soccer demanding equal compensation with their male counterparts. An audit by the governing body revealed the women's team were paid a total of US$7.7 million more than the men from 2010 to 2018.

Indian badminton player P.V. Sindhu (tied for 13th) and Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn (15th) are the other two non-tennis players rounding out the top 15.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'Williams top, Osaka shoots up money charts'. Print Edition | Subscribe