Naomi Osaka held dual citizenship growing up and decided to represent Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which had to be postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on May 26, 2020

Naomi Osaka is ranked 10th in the Women’s Tennis Association, yet the 22-year-old earned more money in the past year than any other female player in the history of the sport.

Naomi Osaka won back-to-back grand slam titles – the US Open (US$3.8 million) in 2018 where she defeated Serena Williams and the Australian Open (slightly above US$2.9 million) in 2019 when she became the first Asian player to be ranked No. 1 in the world in singles. But it is not the prize-money that earned Osaka US$37.4 million.

Naomi Osaka was born in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan, and moved to the US when she was three years of age. Born to a mother from Hokkaido, Japan, and a father from Jacmel, Haiti, Naomi Osaka is bicultural and that is a huge asset.

When Osaka won the US Open in 2018, she was declared the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title, and has won US$14.6 million in her career to date. Osaka held dual citizenship growing up and decided to represent Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which had to be postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Procter & Gamble, All Nippon Airways and Nissan signed endorsement deals with Naomi Osaka to use her around marketing for the Games.Nike is her clothing sponsor and she has lucrative deals with ANA, bareMinerals, Citizen, Mastercard, Morinaga, Shiseido, Yonex and Wowow.

Naomi Osaka has 1.1 million followers on her Instagram page and more 235,000 followers on her Facebook page.

,

“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.”

Naomi Osaka’s monetary sum was US$1.4 million more than Serena Williams earned, and set an all-time earnings record for a female athlete in a single year.

Maria Sharapova previously held the record with US$29.7 million in 2015.

Since Forbes began tracking women athletes’ income in 1990, tennis players have topped the annual list every year.

Naomi Osaka ranks No. 29 among the 100 highest-paid athletes with Williams at No. 33. Forbes said it is the first time since 2016 that two women have made the ranks of the 100 highest-paid athletes, with the full 2020 list set for publication next week.