Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has become the world’s highest-paid female athlete, making US$37.4 million (S$50 million) in the past 12 months for an earnings record, Forbes magazine reported on Friday.
The 22-year-old Asian star, a two-time Grand Slam champion, edged US rival Serena Williams by US$1.4 million in prize money and endorsement income over the past year.
Both shattered the old single-year earnings mark of US$29.7 million set in 2015 by Russia’s Maria Sharapova, who retired in February with five Grand Slam titles, including a career Slam.
“To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” University of Southern California sports business professor David Carter 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.”
Osaka, whose father was born in Haiti and whose mother is Japanese, ranks 29th on the 2020 Forbes list of the world’s 100 top-paid athletes, four spots ahead of Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles.