Naomi Osaka eclipses Serena Williams as highest-earning female athlete

Naomi Osaka eclipses Serena Williams as highest-earning female athlete

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka has become the highest earning female athlete in the world after earning $37.4 million over the last 12 months.

According to Forbes, the 22-year-old’s earnings over the past year came from a combination of prize money and endorsement deals, totalling $1.4 more than Serena Williams’ earnings.

Osaka has also set an all-time earnings record for a female athlete in a single year, a record that was previously held by Maria Sharapova, with $29.7 million in 2015.

Osaka’s rise to the top of the rich list ends a long stint by Serena Williams, who has been the world’s highest-paid female athlete for the four previous years in a row.


Get The Sporty Wrap in your inbox, our weekly update on women in sport 


Osaka now ranks No. 29 among the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world. The top 28 athletes are all men. Serena Williams now comes in at No. 33.

Forbes have indicated it’s the first time since 2016 that two women have made the ranks of the 100 highest-earning athletes.

Osaka, who represents Japan on the world stage, won the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open, becoming the first player from Asia to hold top ranking singles titles.

Naomi Osaka after winning the US Open in 2018.

She was just one year old when Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam title in 1999.

Osaka currently has 15 endorsement partners, including lucrative deals with Nike, Nissan Motor, Shiseido and Yonex. Almost all deals are worth 7 figures annually.

“To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” David Carter, a sports business professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business told Forbes.

“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.”

According to Forbes, Osaka is expected to be one of the faces of the 2021 Olympics.


Love sport? We’re keeping it high on the agenda during the pandemic. Sign up to our new weekly newsletter, The Sporty Wraphere.

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox