Sharapova has last laugh against Serena Williams

ON THE court, Maria Sharapova can't hold a candle to world No.1 Serena Williams.

The American holds an 18-2 career advantage, with Sharapova's last victory coming at the 2004 WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles.

But when it comes to off-court earnings, the Russian has always been the winner. In a list by leading business magazine Forbes, Sharapova was the highest-earning female athlete for the 11th consecutive year.

She brought in a tick over $A40 million from prizemoney, appearances, licensing and endorsements, and personal business interests.

They include her Sugarpova candy business, launched in 2012, with sales more than doubling last year to three million bags worldwide.

Williams was No.2 on the list with $33.3m, while Caroline Wozniacki was third with $19.8m.

Seven of the top 10 earners were tennis players, with American trio Danica Patrick (motor racing), Ronda Rousey (mma) and Stacey Lewis (golf) the only exceptions.

The top 10 female athletes earned $168 million in the 12 months to June 1, 2015, compared to the top 10 men who brought in $1.29 billion.