Born on 16 October 1997 to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Naomi Osaka is a professional tennis player. She has a trio-citizenship – the Haitian, Japanese, and American. Osaka has kept a shy, candid, and down-to-earth personality despite her remarkable prowess on the court. The 22-year-old has surpassed all expectations since defeating former US Open champion Samantha Stosur at just the age of 16. Then, she won back-to-back grand slam titles, the first Japanese national to do it. The latest, becoming the world’s youngest highest-paid sportswoman.
One of the most marketable women in the world today. According to Forbes, Naomi Osaka earned $37.4 million in the past 12 months from prize money and endorsements – that is $1.4 million more than Serena who earned ‘just’ $36 million. This sets an all-time gross earnings record for any sportswoman in a single year.
“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 said.
“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,” Carter added.
Osaka’s rise to the top to become the highest-paid sportswoman is just a perfect heart-melting story. She gained global limelight when she won back-to-back grand slam titles at the 2018 U.S Open and the Aussie Open in 2019. To show how rapidly she grew over the years, the tweet below was written April 7, 2016, and shared on her official Twitter handle: @naomiosaka
The pivotal factor in her quick financial rise was the decision to represent Japan in the (now postponed) Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Olympic sponsors like Procter & Gamble, Nissin foods, All Nippon Airways, and other sponsors like Nike, BodyAmour and Hyperice, Nissan Motor, Shiseido and Yonex all signed lucrative endorsement deals with Naomi Osaka ahead of the games. She was supposed to be one of the faces of the games, which has now been shifted to 2021.
Osaka’s contract with Nike was very unique, only the second of its kind, after China’s Li. This contributed immensely to Osaka becoming the highest-paid sportswoman. Nike would typically love to ‘own’ their athlete’s outfit head-to-toe. Not this one. Now, Nike has to ‘share’ Osaka with the other sponsors who will have their logos on some of her game-day outfits.
Her rackets are made by the legendary Shiseido and Yonex (Rakuten).
Naomi Osaka’s marketing agency IMG, headed by the versatile Stuart Duguid, used their experience with Kei Nishikori, Sharapova, and Li to secure lucrative long-term deals for Osaka.
This news, however, is not unusual in the tennis world which has produced every ‘highest-paid sportswoman’. Every single year, since Forbes started tracking the data in 1990, it has always been a tennis player. Today 22nd May 2020, Forbes declared Naomi Osaka the highest gross earning sportswoman ever. Serena Williams held the reins between 2016-2019, Maria Sharapova 2011-2015, while Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis for most of the 1990s. Naomi Osaka is also the first Asian player to be ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).