There's a New Highest-Paid Female Athlete

22-year-old tennis star Naomi Osaka sets a yearly income record: $37.4M
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2020 8:11 AM CDT
Serena Is No Longer the Highest-Paid Female Athlete
Serena Williams, left, and Naomi Osaka at the trophy ceremony after Osaka defeated Williams in the women's final of the US Open in 2018.   (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Naomi Osaka has set a record that transcends tennis: The Japanese-born star collected $37.4 million in endorsements and prize money in the past year. That's more than any female athlete has ever made in 12 months, Reuters reports. Maria Sharapova had held the record until now, set in 2015, at $29.7 million. Osaka replaces Serena Williams atop the yearly income list, where she'd been for four years, by earning $1.4 million more than Williams. Among the world's highest-paid athletes overall, Osaka ranks 29th and Williams 33rd. It’s the first time since 2016 the list of 100 highest-paid athletes has included two women, per Forbes.

Osaka, who first made a splash by defeating Williams in the 2018 US Open final, has slipped in the tennis rankings from No. 1 to No. 10 since winning the Australian Open last year. But the 22-year-old, who was born in Japan and moved to the US when she was 3, has proven highly marketable. "To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great backstory," said a sports business professor. "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." (More Naomi Osaka stories.)

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