Naomi Osaka is a Haitian-Japanese tennis player with four grand slams. She was born in Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan in October 1997 to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother but has lived her life in the U.S. since age three and has dual Japanese and American citizenship.
According to her, she “grew up in a Haitian household in New York,” where she lived with her grandmother. Although she has often touted her Haitian heritage, Osaka plays tennis under the Japanese flag despite not being able to speak the language fluently.
Osaka became the first person of color from Japan to reach No. 1 in the rankings and also the first to win a Grand Slam trophy. Since winning her first grand slam in 2018 by defeating her idol Serena Williams, she won three more grand slams.
Her success on the court has not only led to winning grand slam trophies but also resulted in a substantial accumulation of wealth by the tennis star. In 2020, Forbes named her the highest-paid athlete in history. She earned a whopping $37.4 million in the last 12 months – a summation of her prize money and endorsement deals, beating Williams by $1.4 million to earn the top spot.
The top spot had been dominated by Williams in the last four years. Maria Sharapova also had the top spot in 2015 with $29.7 million in earnings and endorsements.
According to Forbes, Osaka’s backstory played a significant role in her earnings since her skills are undeniably great. Also, her heritage made her very relatable to many individuals hence a hot commodity for Olympic sponsors who intend to reach a wide audience. Sponsors like Procter & Gamble, All Nippon Airways, and Nissin jumped on the Osaka wagon and signed endorsement deals with her to market their products for the Games.
In June this year, she set an earnings record for female athletes. “The tennis star has made $60 million in 12 months—$55 million from endorsements—demolishing the earnings record for female athletes she set just last year with $37 million,” Forbes wrote this June.
Osaka earned more than $50 million of the court with new partners like Workday, Louis Vuitton, and Airbnb pushing her list of sponsors past 20, Forbes added.
Besides tennis, Osaka has also been involved in several investment moves that may shoot up her earnings in the next few years. Aside from her endorsement deals, she is also a part-owner of a National Women’s Soccer League Team, North Carolina Courage.
She has also invested in a skincare line known as KINLÒ, purposely for melanated individuals. She created the product with Ghanaian-born dermatologist Dr. Naana Boakye. KINLÒ’s products will consist of body spray, lip balm, eye cream, and an SPF 50 Tinted Face Lotion and sunscreen that could potentially save lives aside from protecting the skin. According to CDC research, nearly 33% of Black Americans who get diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer, die in the United States.
Also, Osaka has launched her maiden swimwear collection in collaboration with Los Angeles-based fashion brand Frankies Bikinis. The line aims to empower women and make them feel extra confident.