US Open champion Naomi Osaka is set to rocket up the 2018 Forbes’ list of highest paid female athletes with a truly mind-blowing endorsement deal.
The 20-year-old Japanese star is closing in on a monster endorsement deal with apparel company adidas, on a deal worth more than AU$14 million per year, according to The Times.
If the deal comes to fruition, it will be the biggest deal adidas have ever given to a female tennis player.
The lucrative signing will likely be announced later this week as the Japanese star’s previous six-figure deal with adidas runs out, Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid told The Times.
Duguid explained to the publication that Osaka’s value is so high given her Japanese and Haitian background, and the fact she also appeals to the US market considering she moved to the country at age three.
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Adidas are extremely keen to lock in the talented tennis star as her notoriety skyrockets following her breakthrough Grand Slam victory.
However it likely won’t eclipse the blockbuster deal Serena Williams holds with Nike.
The US Open runner-up reportedly earned roughly AU$25 million from the sportswear giant in 2017, despite not appearing in a number of tournaments as she had her first child.
Along with prize money of $5.3 million for winning the tournament, Osaka would leap into second place on the 2018 Forbes’ list of highest paid female athletes if the deal comes through, ahead of Caroline Wozniacki and below the legend she defeated in New York, Serena Williams.
A big-money car endorsement is also in the works for Osaka, according to a report in The New York Post.
Sports marketing consultant Joe Favorito told The Post that Osaka benefited from winning the US Open in front “major decision makers” in New York.
“The fact that she succeeded in New York gives her another one-up,” Favorito said.
“Her brand value for adidas is in the millions now.”
The Serena question that made Osaka break down
The 20-year-old star from Japan had just won her first ever Grand Slam, but it was a night unfortunately dominated by sadness and tears, as she saw her idol Serena Williams melt down in a battle with the umpire.
Following her two-set victory in New York, Osaka apologised to fans, as she held back tears.
“I know everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” Osaka said.
“It was always my dream to play Serena in the U.S. Open finals. … I’m really grateful I was able to play with you.”
The reaction was heartbreaking to many tennis fans and experts, in what should have been the proudest moment of the hard-hitting youngster’s life, she felt the need to apologise.
One journalist was clearly confused by Osaka’s thought process, and posed a tricky question to the star who’d just earned a AU$5.3m winner’s check.
“Why did you feel like you needed to apologise for doing what you set out to do?” The journalist asked.
“Your question is making me emotional,” Osaka said before a pause.
“OK, because I know she really wanted to ave the 24th Grand Slam, right? Everyone knows this: It’s on the commercials, it’s everywhere.
“When I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I’m not a Serena fan: I’m just a tennis player playing another tennis player.
“But then when I hugged her at the net … anyway, when I hugged her at the net, I felt like a little kid again, so, sorry…”
At that point Osaka couldn’t hold back the tears.
The Japanese star doesn’t think any less of her tennis hero despite the drama of the US Open final.
“The thing is, like, I don’t know what happened on the court. So for me, I’m always going to remember the Serena that I love,” Osaka said.
“It doesn’t change anything for me. She was really nice to me, like, at the net and on the podium. I don’t really see what would change,” said Osaka, who has long looked up to Williams.
“When I was growing up, I did a whole report on her in third grade. I coloured it and everything. I said, ‘I want to be like her.’ [I might still have it] in a folder at home or something. I’m not sure.”