Tuesday, 02 June, 2020

Tennis star Naomi Osaka passes Serena Williams as top-earning female athlete

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Cary Erickson | 23 May, 2020, 01:53

- Osaka, 22, has become the world's highest-paid female athlete, making $37.4 million (34.3 million euros) in the past 12 months for an earnings record, Forbes magazine reported on May 22, 2020.

Naomi Osaka made her name beating Serena Williams on the court.

The 22-year-old amassed her staggering pre-tax total through a combination of prize money and endorsements, raking in $1.4 million more than Serena Williams over the last 12 months.

"To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great backstory", University of Southern California sports business professor David Carter told Forbes.

Female tennis players have always occupied top spot on Forbes's women's list since 1990 with either Williams or Russian Sharapova leading the way from 2004.

Osaka is No 29 overall, with Williams at No 33, on Forbes' annual list of the 100 top-earning athletes.

Williams, 38, had been the world's highest-paid female athlete in each of the past four years.

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Full results of the other 98 male athletes' earnings are scheduled to be released next week, but this marks the first time since 2016 that two sportswomen have made the top 100. Sharapova held the honor the previous five years, earning at least $24.4 million in each year from 2011 to 2015.

Williams had annual incomes from $18 million to $29 million and has collected almost $300 million, much of it in endorsement deals.

Osaka burst on the scene in 2018 when she beat Williams at the U.S. Open for her first major title at 20 years old.

Osaka was a popular endorsement figure in Japan ahead of the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics and figures to remain a sponsorship dream through next year's rescheduled Games.

Sharapova's surprise departure and Williams' mooted retirement may have worked in Osaka's favour after Nike won a bidding war with Adidas to supply her apparel, paying $10 million for the privilege until 2025.

Roger Federer was the highest earner in the sport past year, collecting an astonishing $93.4 million that included enormous backing from the likes of clothing line Uniqlo, with whom he has a $300 million long-term deal.