If you thought a global pandemic would stop one of the greatest athletes of our time, you’re sadly mistaken.
Over the course of the past 12 months, tennis phenom Naomi Osaka has not only been named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year and added a pair of slams to her resume, but she’s stood firm in her commitment to using her platform to raise awareness around social justice and police brutality. She’s also secured the bag, as evidenced by her collecting a jaw-dropping $55.2 million—more than any other woman in sports—within that time span, according to Yahoo Sports.
This isn’t the first time she’s cashed out either, as we reported last May that she earned $37.4 million the previous year. But this time around, she’s maximized her profitability and ran it up outside of tennis, with $5.2 million of her earnings coming from prize money and an estimated $50 million coming from off the court. As such, she now lands at No. 15 in Sportico’s rankings of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world.
I don’t like to count other people’s pockets, but Yahoo Sports has a great breakdown of some of her lucrative endorsement deals:
Osaka has partnered with two dozen brands that range from HR software (Workday) to watches (Tag Heuer). Her marketing appeal covers denim (Levi’s) to high fashion (Louis Vuitton). Osaka has deals worth eight figures annually (Nike) and ones with heavy equity components (Hyperice, BodyArmor). This month, fast-casual restaurant chain Sweetgreen revealed Osaka as its first athlete ambassador—she is also an investor in the company.
She’s also capitalized on the fact that more and more brands have embraced her willingness to openly address important issues that other celebrities and public figures shy away from.
“It used to be that you open your mouth too loudly and nobody wants to touch you,” Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising, told Yahoo Sports. “Now, everybody talks about brands taking a stand. Osaka stands up for what she believes in and comes across as very real.”
That realness and dedication to her craft also comes at a cost, as the 23-year-old took to Instagram on Wednesday and announced that in order to preserve her mental health, she won’t be speaking to the press during this year’s French Open.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athlete’s mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” the No. 2 ranked tennis star wrote. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
Much respect to Osaka for doing what she feels is necessary to protect her peace and continue dominating her sport; we at The Root are incredibly proud of her accomplishments and wish her continued success.