Naomi Osaka tops Serena Williams as world's highest-earning female athlete

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- Osaka, 22, has become the world's highest-paid female athlete, making $37.4 million (34.3 million euros) in the past 12 months for an earnings record, Forbes magazine reported on May 22, 2020.

Osaka's record-breaking earnings shouldn't come as a surprise for tennis fans, as the Nike-sponsored athlete nabbed grand slam titles at both the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open and even has a Netflix documentary series in the works.

The 22-year-old amassed her staggering pre-tax total through a combination of prize money and endorsements, raking in $1.4 million more than Serena Williams over the last 12 months.

Osaka now holds the No. 29 spot among the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world, while Williams is right behind her at No. 33.

Sports business professor David Carter said that Osaka's "great back story" - her family moved from Japan to NY when she was three, where her father tried to emulate Williams' father, Richard, by teaching her tennis from a young age - was an integral part of her allure for advertisers.

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"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 is No 29 overall, with Williams at No 33, on Forbes' annual list of the 100 top-earning athletes. The full list is set to be released next week.

Williams had been the world's highest-paid female athlete in each of the past four years, with Sharapova ruling for the five years before that.

She famously beat Williams at the US Open in 2018 to claim her maiden major before doubling her haul at the Australian Open the following year.

Part of the stable of management group IMG, Osaka now has 15 sponsorship deals, including with global brands such as Nike, Nissan Motors, Shiseido and Yonex. The two-time Grand Slam champion has inked deals with Nissan Motors, Yonex, Nike, Procter & Gamble, All Nippon Airways and Nissin.

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