Tennis Grand Slam champions Serena, Osaka and Kerber are top 3 in the famed list
Badminton star P V Sindhu is the only Indian to be named in the Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019 list released by Forbes on Tuesday.
The list is topped by tennis great Serena Williams, with total earnings of US$29.2 million.
With a total earnings of US$5.5 million, Sindhu is in the 13th place, tied with USA tennis star Madison Keys.
"Sindhu remains India's most marketable female athlete….She became the first Indian to win the season-ending BWF World Tour finals in 2018,” Forbes said.
Forbes said its earnings tally looks at prize money, salaries, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees between June 2018 and 2019. There are 15 female athletes who made at least US$5 million during that time period; for comparison roughly 1,300 male athletes will hit that mark this year.
The top 15 earned a cumulative US$146 million, compared with US$130 million last year.
Williams and Osaka both earned more than twice as much as the third-highest-paid female athlete in the world, Angelique Kerber, who pulled in US$11.8 million from tennis.
Forbes added that tennis remains the “most surefire” way for female athletes to make millions of dollars. Female athletes in soccer, basketball and softball earn salaries of pennies on the dollar compared with their male counterparts.
Despite the playing salary gap in team sports, marketing opportunities have opened up in recent years for female athletes thanks to the growth of social media platforms, according to Dan Levy, who heads up the Olympics and female athletes divisions at Wasserman.
“Pro athletes now have a way to connect with their fans that doesn't rely on network TV to build a fan base and connectivity to the consumers that brands want to reach,” Levy says.
“That change alone has helped women become much more powerful in the sports marketing world.”
Forbes said it compiled its list based on prize money, salaries, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees between June 1 2018 and June 1 this year
US women's soccer player Alex Morgan is the highest-placed non-tennis player on the women's list at number 12, with Forbes putting her total earnings of $5.8 million.
Morgan's income, which makes her the best-paid women's soccer player 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 $127 million.
The US women's soccer team, who won a record-extending fourth World Cup this year, have filed a lawsuit against the country's national soccer body demanding equal compensation with their male counterparts.