According to Forbes, Osaka, who famously beat Serena Williams at the U.S. Open in 2018, securing her first Grand Slam title, earned $37.4 million in the past 12 months between prize money and endorsements. Williams earned about $36 million.

Despite the major win, Osaka ranks just 29th among the 100 highest-paid athletes, with Williams coming in at no. 33. It’s the first time since 2016 that two women have even cracked the athlete ranking (which Forbes will release in full this week).

Previously, the highest-paid female athlete title belonged to Maria Sharapova, who earned $29.7 million in 2015.

According to last year’s rankings, Argentinian soccer player, Lionel Messi is the highest-paid athlete in the world, with an income of $127 million.

Osaka is currently backed by 15 endorsement partners including beauty brand Shiseido, tennis equipment manufacturer Yonex and Nissan Motor.

To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” said 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.”

On top of her endorsements, the majority of which are worth seven figures a year, the athlete inked a $10 million USD deal with Nike in 2019. Osaka’s contract with Nike doesn’t require her to play matches wearing the brand head-to-toe, a caveat that has allowed her to sign additional deals with All Nippon Airways, Mastercard and Nissin Foods.

Osaka hasn’t officially spoken on her newfound title as highest-paid female athlete, but fans were quick to reference the news on her most recent Instagram post. “Big Bag Osaka” and “Heard you the highest payed [sic] in the game” are among the reactions on the star’s latest photo.


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