Naomi Osaka Is the Top-Earning Female Athlete Ever

Naomi Osaka Is the Top-Earning Female Athlete Ever

Naomi Osaka has made more money in a single year than any other female athlete in history, earning 37.4 million in prize money and endorsements.

Osaka’s income knocked out former-record holder Maria Sharapova, who in 2015 made $29.7 million, reports Forbes. She also made $1.4 million more than Serena Williams, who was the highest paid female athlete the last four years in a row.

Osaka beat Williams at the U.S. Open in 2018; a win that was unfortunately deemed “controversial” after a referee docked Williams points for arguing with him over a call and throwing her racket in frustration. Osaka called the win bittersweet, saying “I feel happy and sad at the same time and I think this is the most I’ve ever cried.” (Williams, ever the class act, wrote in a text after the match that “I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan!”)

Forbes credits Osaka’s “engaging backstory” with helping her clinch all those endorsements:

Osaka’s rise to the head of the charts was a perfect convergence of several factors. She first proved herself on the court, with back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open. That plus her heritage—a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father—helped separate her from the pack; at only 20 when she won her Open title, she had a cool factor and an engaging personality.

Tennis is the only sport in which female athletes make comparable money to male athletes, thanks to similarly-sized audiences. Men, however, still make more money than women at lower-level tournaments.

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