Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams top the list of highest-earning female athletes last year

Naomi Osaka (L) and Serena Williams have been named as the two highest-paid female athletes in the world
Naomi Osaka (L) and Serena Williams have been named as the two highest-paid female athletes in the world

Japanese star Naomi Osaka and American legend Serena Williams continue their reign as the two highest-paid female athletes in the world.

A newly-released report by Sportico of the 100 highest-paid athletes of the past year saw Osaka take the top spot among female athletes. With $53.2 million in earnings, she ranks 20th overall. The 24-year-old is also one of only three tennis players on the top-100 list, behind Roger Federer and ahead of Serena Williams.

Williams, meanwhile, earned $35.3 million during the period of consideration and ranks 52nd overall.

Osaka took the top spot among female athletes despite her relative inactivity over the last 12 months. Her time on the court was cut short owing to multiple injuries as well as a break from tennis to deal with mental health struggles.

Of her $53.2 million in earnings, only $1.2 million came from on-court earnings, with $52 million in endorsements.

Similarly, Williams has also hardly played any tennis in the last 12 months but still features on the list due to her off-court earnings.

Like Federer, who has seen almost all of his earnings in the last year come from endorsements, Osaka and Williams continue to attract a lot of interest from sponsors even while not playing.

Federer, Osaka, and Williams earned a combined $172m from endorsements and off-court earnings in the past year.


Can Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka return to the top of the women's tennis circuit?

Naomi Osaka (L) and Serena Williams have struggled due to injuries of late
Naomi Osaka (L) and Serena Williams have struggled due to injuries of late

Serena Williams last played a professional match during the 2021 Wimbledon Championships. Her campaign was cut short by a hamstring injury in her opening match and she has still not fully recovered from it.

However, Williams has hinted at making a comeback at Wimbledon in July. Despite being ranked at No. 248, Williams will fancy her chances when she is back on the court, particularly at Wimbledon, a tournament she has won seven times.

Naomi Osaka, meanwhile, returned to action earlier this year but is yet to hit peak form. The four-time Grand Slam champion has played just five tournaments so far, with her best result being a run to the final of the Miami Open in April.

The Japanese star's claycourt season is also yet to well and truly kick off. She recently picked up an injury during the Madrid Open, where she lost in the Round of 32. Osaka decided to skip the Italian Open as a result, hoping to get fit in time for Roland Garros.

Osaka's WTA ranking (currently No. 38) has seen a decent rise of late and if she can stay fit, there is no reason why the former World No. 1 cannot return to the top and win tournaments again.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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