WASHINGTON – Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka became the top-earning female athlete over the past 12 months, American business magazine Forbes said on Friday.
According to Forbes, Osaka earned 37.4 million US dollars over the last 12 months from prize money and endorsements, 1.4 million U.S. dollars more than American superstar Serena Williams, and set an all-time earnings record for a female athlete. Maria Sharapova from Russia previously held the record with 29.7 million U.S. dollars in 2015.
“To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” University of Southern California sports business professor David Carter 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,” Carter added.
Osaka, whose father was born in Haiti and whose mother is Japanese, won back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open.
Williams, 38, had been the world’s highest-paid female athlete in each of the past four years, while Sharapova ruled for the five years before that.
The highest-paid female athlete every year since Forbes started tracking the data in 1990 has been a tennis player, with Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis the top earners for most of the 1990s.