Tennis star Naomi Osaka passes Serena Williams as top-earning female athlete

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Russian Maria Sharapova, who retired earlier this year to her lavish beachside home in Florida, held the record before Williams, earning just under $30 million in 2015.

Naomi Osaka has been a Grand Slam champion and No. 1 in the WTA rankings - and now she's No. 1 on another list: top-earning female athlete.

Sports business professor David Carter said that Osaka's "great back story" - her family moved from Japan to NY when she was three, where her father tried to emulate Williams' father, Richard, by teaching her tennis from a young age - was an integral part of her allure for advertisers.

She earned $1.4-million more than American great Williams who had topped the list for the last four years.

Osaka won back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open, her controversial and historic victory over Williams in the Flushing Meadows final the first Slam singles crown for a Japanese woman.

The complete Forbes list, due to be released next week, has not featured two women since 2016, the magazine says.

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Williams had annual incomes from $18 million to $29 million and has collected almost $300 million, much of it in endorsement deals.

29 overall, with Williams at No. 33, on Forbes' annual list of the 100 top-earning athletes.

Japan's Naomi Osaka, seen here during a women's singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 24, 2020, has become the world's highest-paid female athlete.

The Japanese then won the 2019 Australian Open, although her form has since dipped and she has fallen from world number one to 10th on the WTA rankings. The 38-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam victor did just fine, earning $36 million for the second-biggest payday ever for a female athlete.

Osaka has been a popular endorsement figure in Japan in the build-up to the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics, securing lucrative deals with global brands Nike, Nissan and Yonex, among others.

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