Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to win the U.S. Open on Saturday. The Final will be long-remembered for an emotional Williams getting a game penalty for verbally abusing the chair umpire, but it should not take away from Osaka’s triumph.
Osaka won an amount of $3.8 million in prize money for the event, but that is likely just the start as she seems almost destined to succeed Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete. Her off-court earnings are likely to soar ten-fold over the next couple of years from $1.5 million to more than $15 million.
Osaka is the first Japanese person man or women to win a Grand Slam final. The underdog Osaka did not shy away from the challenge, saying after her semifinal win over Madison Keys, “This is going to sound really bad, but I was just thinking, ‘I really want to play Serena.’”
Osaka’s strong showing for the 2018 tennis season, including a title at Indian Wells, has raised her marketing profile. The U.S. Open win sends her to another level for endorsements.
The 20-year-old Osaka has the potential to be the face of global tennis for the next decade, with Williams turning 37 this month.