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Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka Amongst Highest-Paid Tennis Athletes of the Past 12 Months

Forbes has named 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka among the highest-paid tennis athletes over the past year. First place went to men’s 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer with $90.6 million.

Williams came in third for the highest-paid tennis athletes on the Forbes list and reportedly earned approximately $41.8 million over the previous 12 months. Williams also made the list in 2019 as the only woman on the highest-paid athlete list, as well as in 2017.

Forbes highest-paid tennis athletes Osaka Williams
Serena Williams (left) and Naomi Osaka (right) pose with their puppies on Instagram. (Photos: @serenawilliams/Instagram, @naomiosaka/Instagram)

Most of the money the tennis star earned came from endorsements and businesses outside of tennis. The 39-year-old tennis champion has endorsement deals with several well-known brands, including Aston Martin, Audemars Piguet, Bumble, Beats By Dre, Delta Air Lines, Gatorade, IBM, Intel, JP Morgan Chase, Nike and Pepsi.

Williams invests her money well and is also the owner of several successful businesses. She has her own line of jewelry and has also invested in an Indonesian coffee line with Jay-Z, the UFC, and the Miami Dolphins.

Through her capital firm Serena Ventures, Williams also began a clothing line called S by Serena. Sixty percent of the businesses she has invested in are women- and minority-owned. She discussed her drive for investing back in 2020 with Forbes Live.

“Well, I love investing and I’ve always felt like I’ve always invested in myself and in my career, and my whole life has been investing in myself,” Williams said. “And so you know, as the world is changing and you see all these amazing companies, you think, at least I think to myself, like, why am I not either on the level of those companies? Why have I not had an opportunity to be involved in, you know supporting those companies, investing in those companies? … And so, naturally, you get curious.”

She added that she learned as much she could about the industries and then began investing.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist has also donated funds to build schools in Jamaica and Kenya, created a foundation that helps children from marginalized communities get scholarships, and she serves as an ambassador of a program that helps domestic abuse victims.

Osaka came in second place with earnings of $60.1 million. The majority of the 23-year-old’s earnings were also from endorsements and businesses. Last year Forbes reported that her 12-month earnings of $37.4 million from June 2019 to May 2020 made her the highest-earning female athlete ever. She has endorsements with Barbie, Bare Minerals, Body Armor, Levis, Nike and Sweetgreen, as well as Japanese companies Nissin Foods, Panasonic, Shiseido Cosmetics, Wowow and All Nippon Airways.

Osaka also has her own skin care line called KINLÒ as well as a line of handbags with Strathberry. She also is known for her philanthropy and efforts to empower women and minorities. As Williams has been a role model for Osaka since she began playing tennis, and she even once referred to her as her mom, the younger player’s ambition is to help and inspire little girls as her role model has done for her.

The Haitian-Japanese champion is partnering with Nike to help to build tennis schools called Play Academy in Los Angeles and Haiti. The school’s goal is to give young girls new opportunities through sports, especially for Asian, Black and Latino girls. Osaka already has a Play Academy in Japan and wants to expand. She announced the Los Angeles school on Twitter.

“The Next Chapter of Play Academy with Naomi Osaka,” she wrote. “Hey LA, it’s time to level the playing field. With the support of @Nike and @laureussport we’re officially launching the next chapter of Play Academy with Naomi Osaka. Join me in creating more opportunities for girls in Los Angeles to access and benefit from play and sport. If you’re an organization, or know of one, that’s passionate about empowering girls through sport, apply for a grant at the link in my bio.”

Charity hasn’t stopped at tennis schools for Osaka. In July 2020 she introduced a line of washable face masks to raise money for UNICEF’s pandemic relief efforts also donated to charity during the pandemic, and Osaka also recently donated her prize money from a tournament toward Haitian relief after the earthquake of Aug. 14.

Novak Djokovic came in fourth on the Forbes list with $38 million, and Rafael Nadal took fifth place with $27 million.

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