Naomi Osaka always looks so shy and modest, but the 22-year-old Japanese is officially the highest-paid female athlete in the world, having earned $37.4 million in the last 12 months, according to Forbes.
Before Naomi Osaka’s emergence, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams ruled the top female earners chart in the past ten years, holding the top spot for five and four years, respectively.
Lucrative endorsements and wins on tennis courts helped Osaka set an all-time earnings record for a female athlete in a single year, as she’s ranked No.29 in the Top 100 highest-paid athletes. Serena Williams is ranked No.33 on that list, legging behind Osaka by $1.4 million. Maria Sharapova previously held the record with $29.7 million in 2015.
Only women’s tennis players can compare with top male athletes when it comes to earnings. Since Forbes started calculating these paychecks in 1990, every year a WTA player was the highest-paid female athlete.
Besides her tennis achievements, the two-time Grand Slam champion Osaka owes her superior marketability to her engaging personality and multi-cultural origin (she was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father, while she’s lived in the U.S.A since she was three years old).
Osaka, the first Japanese player to win a major and the first Asian tennis player ever to be ranked No.1 in the world, has sponsorship agreements with 15 companies, including Nissan Motor, All Nippon Airways, MasterCard, Shiseido and ramen noodle maker Nissin Foods. Her most prominent partnership is with Nike, who paid her more than $10 million last year and will be her tennis clothing sponsor through 2025. In the fourth quarter of 2020, Nike plans to launch Osaka’s own streetwear line in Japan. When it comes to Osaka’s tennis equipment, she’s been using Yonex racquets for more than a decade.