Japanese star Naomi Osaka becomes world's highest-paid female athlete

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka becomes world’s highest-paid female athlete by displacing US rival Serena Williams at the top of the list

  • According to Forbes magazine, Osaka made £30.1m over the past 12 months 
  • That was £1.1m more than the amount earned by 38-year-old rival Williams
  • Both shattered the previous best of £23.9m set in 2015 by Maria Sharapova

Japan’s Naomi Osaka has surpassed Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete, raking in $37.4million (£30.1m) in prize money and endorsements over the last year, according to Forbes.

The 22-year-old twice Grand Slam champion’s total is the most ever earned by a female athlete in a 12-month period.

She earned $1.4m (£1.1m) more than American great Williams who had topped the list for the last four years.

 Japan’s Naomi Osaka made £30.7m in prize money and endorsements over the past 12 months

Maria Sharapova had held the record for 12-month earnings for a female athlete, having made $29.7m (£23.9m) in 2015.

Female tennis players have always occupied top spot on Forbes’s women’s list since 1990 with either Williams or Russian Sharapova leading the way from 2004.

Osaka burst into the limelight by beating Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open final — a highly-controversial match in which Williams was given three code violations by the umpire.

Osaka has surpassed Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete

The Japanese then won the next Grand Slam, the 2019 Australian Open, although her form has dipped since and she has fallen from world number one to 10th on the WTA rankings.

Florida-based Osaka’s mixed heritage — she has a Japanese mother and Haitian-American father — her engaging personality and attacking style of play have combined to make her one of the world’s most marketable athletes.

Part of the stable of management group IMG, Osaka currently has 15 sponsorship deals, including with global brands such as Nike, Nissan Motors, Shiseido and Yonex.

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