Naomi Osaka has had more success than most of us could dream of—and now the 22-year-old tennis superstar can add another title to her résumé: the highest-paid female athlete in history.
According to Forbes, Osaka has surpassed on-court rival Serena Williams on this front, earning $37.4 million in the past 12 months by way of tournament payouts and endorsement deals, which is $1.4 million more than Williams in that same period, and besting the $29.7 million record set by fellow tennis player Maria Sharapova in 2015.
And while there is still (as in most sports) a large discrepancy between the earnings a female athlete can make versus her male counterparts, it’s encouraging to see the women’s numbers on the rise.
Aside from her obviously outstanding athletic abilities, Osaka has some invaluable qualities that make her extra-appealing to brands and fans. “To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great backstory,” David Carter, a sports business professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business, told Forbes. “Combine that with being youthful and bicultural, two attributes that help her resonate with younger, global audiences, and the result is the emergence of a global sports marketing icon.”
Casual fans, or those who don’t watch a lot of tennis, likely became aware of Osaka during her run at the U.S. Open in 2018 when she famously defeated Williams in the finals. The match was somewhat controversial due to a number of penalties issued to Williams by the court umpire, leading the crowd to boo and Williams to break her racket in frustration.
But there’s no bad blood between the two. “She said that she was proud of me and that I should know that the crowd wasn’t booing at me,” Osaka later told Ellen DeGeneres about what Williams whispered to her after the match. “So I was really happy with what she said. At the time I did kind of think they were booing at me. I couldn’t tell what was going on because it was just so loud in there, so it was a little bit stressful.”
Oh, and in case being the highest-paid female athlete in history, a cross-generational talent, and a gracious winner isn’t enough, Osaka also makes a mean risotto, which she passionately cooked for Glamour earlier this month. We love a Renaissance woman!
Originally Appeared on Glamour