Naomi Osaka Is the Top-Earning Female Athlete Ever

Illustration for article titled Naomi Osaka Is the Top-Earning Female Athlete Ever
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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.

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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!”)

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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.

Night blogger at Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

I’m really confused by the number comparison. So Osaka made 8 million dollars more than the previous record holder Sharapova made in 2015, yet only made 1.4 million dollars more than Williams? So did Williams also make more money last year than Sharapova had in 2015? Or what is the comparison number here?

Still, really awesome for Osaka. Also got a really big laugh at the description of Williams as always being a class act as I have rarely seen that term being used for her. And it sure as hell didn’t really apply in that situation.