Naomi Osaka Dethrones Serena Williams To Become Highest-Paid Female Athlete

Naomi Osaka has become the highest-paid female athlete ever.  According to Forbes, she will make $37.4 million in 2020.

Not only is that historic, but she has also dethroned Serena Williams on the money charts.  Serena Williams was the highest-paid athlete for the last four years.

Osaka, who is only 22 is likely to be one of the highest-paid athletes for many years.  With Maria Sharapova retired and Serena Williams approaching retirement, it’s Brand Osaka’s turn.

To be honest, it’s not surprising. Osaka, who now represents Japan after giving up her US citizenship in 2019, is a star in Japan. Japan is a developed economy with many companies willing to sponsor top athletes.


With the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japanese stars such as Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka are in high demand as brands are interested in signing them to represent their brands on the world stage.

Osaka is represented by powerhouse IMG.  IMG also represents Maria Sharapova, Kei Nishikori, and Serena Williams. 

Osaka’s Sponsors List

Osaka has sponsorship deals with Japanese brands as well as global brands such as Nike.  When her previous shoe and apparel deal with Under Armor came up for renewal,  Nike had stiff competition with Under Armor and Japanese fast retailer Uniqlo before prevailing.

In an unusual move for Nike, Osaka was allowed to wear patches of other brands on her clothing.  I am sure that was part of the concession Nike had to make to sign up Osaka.

Osaka’s sponsors include:

  • Nike
  • Nissin
  • Nissan
  • Citizen
  • Yonex
  • ANA (All Nippon Airways)
  • Shiseido
  • Mastercard

Serena Dethroned, Not For The First Time

Serena Williams has won more grand slam titles than Osaka.  But Serena has had difficulty converting her on-court accomplishments into lucrative sponsorship deals to keep the top spot.

Between 2011 and 2015, Maria Sharapova earned more than Serena with fewer grand slam titles.  This goes to show that winning major titles alone does not guarantee the top spot on tennis’ money list.

Osaka is Humble and Likeable

Osaka is very shy. and often gives short answers to interview questions.  She has talked about how she is lost for words when she meets someone for the first time.  But she has grown immensely as a person and is well-liked on the tour.

Sponsors like her ability to connect with young fans.  Osaka is active on Instagram and Twitter and engages with fans frequently. 

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Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy – Training The Next Generation of Tennis Stars

Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar was opened in 2016 in Rafael Nadal’s hometown of Manacor, Mallorca.

Roger Federer joined Nadal to celebrate the official opening of the Rafa Nadal Academy.  Federer praised Nadal, who had been one of his main rivals for more than a decade.

Federer said, “I’m really here to honor the great man, Rafa. I think it’s wonderful that he’s taken this journey on to give the kids something back.”

Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, Mallorca


The academy gas twenty-six indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a fitness center, two swimming pools, mini-football pitches, a multi-sport court, and seven paddle tennis courts.

The Rafa Nadal  Academy includes 3000 square meters of gym machines and state of the art equipment, 25-meter Olympic indoor pool,  spa, Turkish bath, and treatment cabins.

Coaching Staff

The tennis academy has a group of experienced coaches directed by Toni Nadal, long-time coach, and uncle of Rafael Nadal.  The coaches teach upcoming players based on a unique training system based on Nadal’s years of experience on the ATP tour.

International School

The academy includes the Rafa Nadal International School which allows athletes to combine studies and tennis. The school aims to prepare students for university entrance exams – including  US universities that offer scholarships to promising tennis players.


Training at the academy is not cheap.  It costs around 62,000 Euros ($68,000) to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy.

Rafa Nadal Academy Logo

The academy’s logo is a stylized version of the bull that shows a bull’s head. It is based on Rafa’s nickname on the tour, the is the “Raging Bull”.  The logo also includes the term “By Movistar”.  Movistar is a major telecom company owned by Telefonica and a partner of the Rafa Nadal academy.


The academy hosts tournaments for junior and adult players including a challenger event, Rafa Nadal Open.


Movistar is the primary sponsor of the academy – in fact, the academy is called Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar.  Other sponsors include Air Europa, Cantabria Labs, Nike, Babolat, Heliocare, KIA Motors, LG, and Technogym.  Sponsors such as KIA Motors, Nike and Babolat have patterned with Nadal for a long time.

Board of Directors

The Board members include Rafael Nadal, his uncle Toni Nadal, current coach Carlos Moya and Nadal’s longtime agent and former professional player Carlos Costa.

Rafa Nadal Academy – International Locations


In February 2019, Rafael Nadal inaugurated the new Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre Costa Mujeres, Cancun (Mexico).

The tennis center provides world-class lessons to vacationers – both adults and juniors who can work on their tennis games when not spending time at the beach or the pool.


In February 2020, Rafael Nadal opened the Rafa Nadal Academy in Kuwait. It is located in the Shaikh Jaber Al Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah International Tennis Complex.

As part of the inauguration, Rafael Nadal played an exhibition match with his friend David Ferrer.

Rafa Nadal Academy aims to become a leading tennis center in the Middle East. It will also support the Kuwait Tennis Federation in building a  tennis development program for the country. Ex-player Nuno Nuno Márquez will be the head coach at the academy.  He will be supported by a team of other coaches.


In February 2019, Rafa Nadal Academy expanded into Greece.  The tennis center is based in the Halkidiki Peninsula, which is one of Greece’s biggest tourist destinations.

The tennis complex is located in Sani Resort and includes 8 tennis courts and an outdoor lounge.

The Rafa Nadal Tennis Center offers personalized tennis programs for all ages.  Guests can have fun while improving their game at the same time.


The mayor of the municipality where the Rafa Nadal Academy is located complained about a lack of discussion of the recent expansion of the academy approved by the regional government. The approval allowed the use of 26 square meters of undeveloped land with no application for a change in land use or environmental impact assessment.

The academy has also been accused of competing with the area’s resorts and tourism business while avoiding its regulations.

Nadal responded strongly to the accusations saying, “Having to listen to this is offensive and painful. There may be people who do not like the way I have carried the name of Manacor across the world, but I think there is no doubt I have tried to do it in the best possible way.”

Nadal also said that it was a priority to build his tennis academy in home town even though he had other options.  Nadal said, “I can assure you that this academy project could have been located in several places in the world where we were offered important benefits and a lot of facilities. But though it was a higher economic cost, I wanted to do it in my home, in Manacor, where this project could be positive for my region and the Balearic Islands.”

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