After a memorable US Open win over Serena Williams in 2018 that catapulted her into the global spotlight only to be followed with a second grand slam in Australia four months later, Naomi Osaka has gained recognition for her immense talent. However, this Japanese tennis ace was just getting warmed up.
The last 12 months for the 23-year-old tennis player can be considered as one of the most memorable years ever by an athlete—male or female—across any sport. Why? She added two more slams to her name, and received praise for her support in the Black Lives Matter movement when she wore a mask highlighting the names of seven black victims of police shootings during a march in New York.
The outcome? A record $55.2 million in earnings in 2020, $5.2 million from prize money, and an estimated $50 million earned off the court. According to Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising, in his statement to Sportico.com, “It used to be that you open your mouth too loudly and nobody wants to touch you. Now, everybody talks about brands taking a stand. Osaka stands up for what she believes in and comes across as very real.”
Stuart Duguid, the IMG agent steering Osaka’s marketing career, told the website, “Being a woman has made her even more attractive for sponsors. There’s a big push to invest in women in sports.”
However, Osaka wants to invest in women, too, and bought a stake in the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage, and has even encouraged her endorsement partners to invest in the soccer league. If that’s not all, Osaka is said to get her very own Netflix documentary—a three-part series that will be aired in July. According to reports, the show is an intimate look at one of the “most gifted and complex athletes of her generation.”