TSR Black Girl Magic: Naomi Osaka makes history, topping her icon Serena Williams as the highest-paid female athlete ever.
At 22, Naomi racked up $37 million in earnings in the past year, more than any other female athlete in history, according to Forbes.
That hefty bag from the past 12 months comes from prize money and endorsements, $1.4 million more than Serena earned, setting an all-time earnings record for a female athlete in a single year. Another tennis player, Maria Sharapova, previously held the record with $29.7 million in 2015.
As far as her standing for highest-paid athletes, including men, Naomi ranks No. 29 among Forbes’ highest-paid athletes while Serena ranks No. 33. It’s actually the first time since 2015 that two women have made the ranks of the 100 highest-paid athletes.
“To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” says David Carter, a sports business professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business. “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.”
Topping Serena was no easy feat for Naomi. Serena has been the world’s highest-paid female athlete for the past four years and has collected almost $300 million during her career from endorsers.
Naomi turned pro in 2014, a month before her 16th birthday. She won her first title in March 2018 at Indian Wells and in the 12 months that followed, she became the first Japanese player to win a Slam and the first Asian tennis player ever to be ranked No. 1 in the world.
Naomi held dual citizenship growing up, but chose to represent Japan ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which has been postponed to 2021.
According to Forbes, tennis remains the only route for women to rank alongside the top-paid male sports stars. Sharapova, Li Na, Serena Williams and now Naomi Osaka are the only women to rank among the 100 top earners in sports since 2012.
The highest-paid female athlete every year since Forbes started tracking the data in 1990 has been a tennis player.
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