NEW YORK: Tennis star Naomi Osaka earned $37.4 million last year, a record for a female athlete, surpassing American great Serena Williams.
According to the coveted Forbes magazine, the previous record was fellow tennis player Maria Sharapova’s $29.7 million in 2015. The magazine factors in prize money and endorsements. Forbes will release the entire list next week.
Osaka earned $3.4 million in prize money and $34 million in endorsements. She ranks 29th and Serena Williams ($36 million) stands 33rd on its annual list of the 100 highest-paid athletes.
Osaka is No 29 overall, with Williams at No 33, on the annual list of the 100 top-earning athletes released by Forbes. Williams had led the way among women each of the past four years with annual pre-tax income ranging from $18 million to $29 million.
The ascension puts an end to a decisive winning streak for Williams. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has collected almost $300 million during her career from endorsements.
The 22-year-old Osaka rose to stardom by defeating Serena Williams to win the 2018 US Open. She later won Australian Open in 2019 and became the first Asian player to reach No. 1 in the world.
She currently ranks 10th in the WTA singles rankings but her dual US and Japenese citizenship has increased her popularity. Her decision to play for Japan in the Summer Olympics — postponed a year to 2021 — also led to a surge in sponsorship and endorsement opportunities.
According to Forbes, Osaka has 15 endorsements, including a lucrative deal with Nike. Sharapova was the highest-paid female athlete for eleven straight years before Williams surpassed her in 2016.