PV Sindhu's on-court winnings last year totalled $500,000 (£387,000) but endorsements saw her bring in an extra $8m (£6.2m) in sponsorship in sports-mad India.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, more popularly known as PV Sindhu, is now the seventh highest-earning woman sportsperson in the world, according to a recent list released by Forbes. The Rio Olympics silver medallist earned $8.5 million in the period between June 2017 and June 2018 – from prize money and endorsement deals – despite badminton’s semi-professional status in most parts of the world.
Sindhu’s on-court winnings last year totalled $500,000 (£387,000) but endorsements saw her bring in an extra $8m (£6.2m) in sponsorship in sports-mad India. That works out to a weekly income of $163,000 (£126,000). This amount is even more than what WTA world number one and the top seed for 2018 US Open, Simona Halep, had earned in the same period.
While the list is headed by tennis legend Serena Williams followed by Caroline Wozniacki at the second spot, Sindhu’s presence in a tennis-heavy index comes as a surprise for many.
The 23-year-old shuttler comes from a sporting background and her parents had played volleyball at the national level. However, Sindhu was inspired by Pullela Gopichand, who won the men’s singles event at the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001 and decided to take up badminton when she was six.
The 2016 Rio Olympics proved to be the turning point in her life. Then seeded ninth, Sindhu won against eighth seed Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei in the last 16 and then defeated China’s second seed Wang Yihan in the quarter-finals and Japan’s sixth seed Nozomi Okuhara in the semi-finals before losing to Spain’s world number one Carolina Marin in the final.
Life was tough for Sindhu before Rio as most sponsors wanted to be associated with only cricket. But, she had become the first Indian woman to earn an Olympic silver and the fact was enough to turn a few heads.
On her return from Brazil, Sindhu got cash prizes from different state governments and government institutions worth Rs 13 crore (about £1.4m). On the other hand, Marin who had won Gold, received just Rs 70 lakh (about £77,500) from the Spanish government for her achievement.
Since then, Sindhu has been signed by a number of top companies including Bridgestone, Gatorade, Nokia, Panasonic, Reckitt Benckiser and a half-dozen other brands. She is also the brand ambassador for the Central Reserve Police Force and Vizag Steel.
On Thursday, she begins her campaign in the women’s singles at the Asian Games in Indonesia – another competition where no Indian woman has secured a Gold in badminton. A win here will further increase Sindhu’s popularity and market value.