Osaka, whose father was born in Haiti and whose mother is Japanese, is 29th on the 2020 Forbes list of the world's 100 top-paid athletes, four spots ahead of Williams, the victor of 23 Grand Slam singles titles.
The 22-year-old Asian star, a two-time Grand Slam champion, edged United States rival Serena Williams by $1.4 million in prize money and endorsement income over the past year. The previous record was Maria Sharapova in 2015 with $29.7 million.
"To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face", he told Forbes, nodding to her decision to represent Japan despite spending most of her life at tennis academies in Florida. Now she's winning at the bank.
She has won about $14.5 million in career prize money, according to the WTA, a little less than half of which was earned in 2019.
Nike signed an apparel deal with Osaka last year that paid her $10 million in the past year and runs through 2025.
Female tennis players have always occupied top spot on Forbes's women's list since 1990 with either Williams or Russian Sharapova leading the way from 2004. "Her achievement is only relevant because she surpassed Serena", said one, referring to the veteran's incredible collection of 39 Grand Slam titles.
That was £1.15m more than the amount earned by 38-year-old Williams.
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