Naomi Osaka has edged out Serena Williams to become the highest paid female athlete over the past 12 months.
According to a report in Forbes, Osaka’s earning of more than $37 million in prize money and sponsorship helped her pip the former world number one and 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams to the post. In doing so, Osaka also topped the highest payment received in a year, beating an old record of Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova had clinched the top spot in 2015 when she earned $29.7 million. It was also the last time Sharapova won this pride of place, before Serena swept past her over the next four years between 2016 and 2019.
Two-time major winner Osaka, however, has now usurped both, edging past Serena by a ‘slim’ margin of $1.4 million. Before this, Serena had pocked an average of nearly $26 million over the past four seasons.
Overall, Serena’s career earnings have touched a whopping $300 million already when one includes both, the prize money and endorsements.
Osaka’s stocks have risen in recent times, especially after she won back to back Grand Slam titles between 2018 and 2019. At the 2018 US Open, Osaka stunned Serena in a controversy-ridden final before she bagged the 2019 Australian Open title as well by beating Petra Kvitova in the title-decider.
This has helped Osaka pouch a whopping 15 endorsement brands including Nike, Nissan and MasterCard.
Some of the other highest-paying female athletes over the years have included Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Venus Williams. Venus clinched the top honour in 2003 while the other two had their time during the 1990s.
Osaka also made the top 100 list among highest-earning athletes, starring at the 29th spot. Serena was the 33rd on that list which will release next week. And one of the reasons for this is the bidding war for apparel sponsorship between Nike and Adidas, with the former coming away trumps for a price of $10 million per year.
The Japanese player’s sponsors would hope to continue exhibiting the kind of sparkle she did till the early part of the 2019 season following which her form tapered off a tad. However she made a strong finish to last year when she won back to back titles at the Osaka Open and the China Open.