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Meet India’s Highest Paid Female Athlete

P.V. Sindhu became the youngest Indian Olympian to medal in an individual event when she was 21 years old. Since 2016, she's already accomplished much more.

P.V. Sindhu has played international badminton professionally since she was 14 years old. She’s the top-grossing, non-cricket athlete fromt the country, and is World Champion and India’s first female athlete to earn a silver Olympic medal. 

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She earned $5.5 million in 2019, which made her the 13th highest-paid female athlete in the world, according to Forbes. However, the majority of her earnings came from endorsement deals, making her India’s most marketable female athlete. She has inked deals with Gatorade, JBL, Bridgestone, and Panasonic, among many others. 

Sindhu became a household name in India during the 2016 Summer Olympics, in which she became the first Indian badminton player to reach a final. At 21 years old, she was the youngest Indian Olympian to medal in an individual event. After the Olympics, the Indian government recognized Sindhu as a Padma Shri Award recipient, which is the country’s fourth-highest civilian honor. 

In 2019, she won gold at the Badminton World Championships, the first for India. The first-place finish came after Sindhu won silver in the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. Sindhu’s success has already made an impact on other female athletes and young girls in her country. 

“Before even I started (playing badminton) it was more like ‘Girls shouldn’t come out and play sport — you need to stay at home,'” she said in an interview with CNN. “But in a few years back it has changed […] It’s no more that the girl should stay at home.”

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Photo Credit: Google Reuse, Instagram

Photo Credit: Google Reuse, Instagram

Sindhu is an activist for women in sports. She’s hopeful that her success in badminton will bring more recognition to The Sports Authority of India and Badminton Association of India.

“This INCLUSION BAND stands for a tomorrow that is all-inclusive, one where respect, dignity, diversity, inclusion, and acceptance co-exist. Let’s build a movement together!” she wrote on Instagram.

India’s ace badminton player is a role model to many and her words have a strong influence on young girls and women alike. Aneffigy of her holding a badminton racket was built in the village of Kerala at a 1700-year-old temple. The effigy is a symbolic representation of women’s empowerment and her epic victory in the recent world championship. 

“No one should think that men are strong and women has nothing. Nobody should think that,” she told CNN. Women are strong enough to do whatever they want.”