Naomi Osaka's Historic $55M 2021 Earnings Headlines Sportico's Top-Paid Athletes List

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 26, 2021

PARIS, FRANCE May 25. Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts during practice on Court Simonne Mathieu in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 25th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Tennis star Naomi Osaka earned $55 million in the past year, according to Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico, making her the top female earner among athletes. 

She was 15th overall on Sportico's list of top athlete earners from the past year. UFC fighter Conor McGregor ($208 million), Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi ($126 million), Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo ($120 million), Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott ($108.4 million) and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James ($101.8 million) rounded out the top five. 

Osaka's excellent play in the past 12 months—which included two Grand Slam titles—netted her $5.2 million in prize money. But she added $50 million off the court, including endorsement deals with Nike, Levi’s, Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer, Workday, Hyperice, BodyArmor and Sweetgreen.

Per Badenhausen, only Roger Federer, James and Tiger Woods made more in endorsement money this past year. 

Osaka and Serena Williams (No. 44, with $35.5 million in earnings) were the only women to crack Sportico's top 100 earners list, however, a stark reminder of the large earnings gap between male and female athletes. 

And Osaka, despite setting a record for female earners, still was only 15th on that list. 

Given her age (23), ascending superstardom (she's already won the Australian Open and U.S. Open twice), popularity and widespread reach, Osaka's growth potential is immense. 

But it's hard to ignore the fact that if she was a male athlete with that same marketability, she likely would have earned far more.