22-year-old top female tennis player, Naomi Osaka, is now the highest-paid female athlete in the world.
The Japanese-Haitian athlete earned a total of USD 37.4 million from prize money and endorsements between June 2019 and May 2020. Osaka is currently backed by 15 endorsement partners ranging from Nissan Motor, Shiseido and Yonex, with almost all of them worth seven figures every year. On top of the wins and endorsements, the tennis star’s new and extremely rare Nike contract — which paid her more than USD 10 million — doesn’t require her to play matches in full Nike apparel, giving her space to sign “patch” deals with All Nippon Airways, MasterCard and Nissin Foods.
Her earnings effectively overthrow Serena Williams, who’s held the title for four years, by USD 1.4 million. Osaka also set a new record for a female athlete’s recorded earnings in a year, surpassing Maria Sharapova‘s USD 29.7 million records in 2015. Osaka and Williams, however, are both included in the 2020s 100 highest-paid athletes list (the full roster scheduled to be released in June) at Nos. 29 and 33 respectively — the first time that two women have joined the ranking since 2016.
“To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” David Carter, a sports business professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business, said. “Combine that with being youthful and bicultural, two attributes that help her resonate with younger, global audiences, and the result is the emergence of a global sports marketing icon.”