Naomi Osaka Is Now the Highest-Paid Female Athlete in History

At only 22 years old.

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Sports
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22-year-old tennis superstar Naomi Osaka is officially the highest-paid female athlete in history.

According to Forbes, the Japanese-Haitian athlete earned a total of $37.4 million USD from prize money and endorsements between June 2019 and May 2020. Osaka is currently backed by 15 endorsement partners ranging from Nissan Motor, Shiseido and Yonex, with almost all of them worth seven figures every year. On top of the wins and endorsements, the tennis star’s new and extremely rare Nike contract — which paid her more than $10 million USD — doesn’t require her to play matches in full Nike apparel, giving her space to sign “patch” deals with All Nippon Airways, MasterCard and Nissin Foods.

Her earnings effectively overthrow Serena Williams, who’s held the title for four years, by $1.4 million USD. Osaka also set a new record for a female athlete’s recorded earnings in a year, surpassing Maria Sharapova‘s $29.7 million USD record in 2015. Osaka and Williams, however, are both included in 2020’s 100 highest-paid athletes list (the full roster scheduled to be released in June) at Nos. 29 and 33 respectively — the first time that two women have joined the ranking since 2016.

“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, said. “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.”

Elsewhere in sports, Kobe Bryant’s NBA Championship ring sold for $206,000 USD at an auction.

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