Tennis Star Naomi Osaka has broken the all-time record for female athlete’s earnings in a single year, according to a new report from Forbes. 22-year-old Osaka earned $37.4 million in the last 12 months from prize money and endorsements, making her the world’s highest paid female athlete.
Another famous black tennis player, Serena Williams, had held the position for the last 4 years, while Maria Sharapova last set the record for female athlete’s single year earnings in 2015. Osaka and Williams are the only two women to make the ranks of the magazine’s 2020 list of the 100 highest paid athletes, Forbes reported.
Osaka won the Grand Slam at the 2018 U.S. Open when matched up with her idol, Williams, and went on to win the Australian Open in 2019. According to Forbes, the player’s Japanese and Haitian-American heritage played a role in her financial success along with her prowess on the court:
“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.”
Osaka held dual citizenship growing up but made the wise choice to represent Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, now postponed to 2021. The decision made her an even hotter commodity for Olympic sponsors, like Procter & Gamble, All Nippon Airways and Nissin, which signed endorsement deals with Osaka to use her around marketing for the Games. She is expected to be one of the faces of the Olympics, which had triggered unprecedented levels of excitement among the Japanese public before the coronavirus outbreak.
Correction: 2:35 p.m. ET, 5/24/20: This headline has been corrected to more accurately reflect Osaka’s ranking financially.