Naomi Osaka tops Serena Williams as world’s highest-paid female athlete

Naomi Osaka has surpassed Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete, raking in $37.4million in prize money and endorsements over the last year, according to Forbes.

The 22-year-old twice Grand Slam champion’s total is the most ever earned by a female athlete in a 12-month period.

She earned $1.4 million more than American great Williams who had topped the list for the last four years.

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Maria Sharapova had held the record for 12-month earnings for a female athlete, having made $29.7 million in 2015.

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.

Osaka burst into the limelight by beating Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open final — a highly-controversial match in which Williams was given three code violations by the umpire.

The Japanese then won the next Grand Slam, the 2019 Australian Open, although her form has dipped since and she has fallen from world number one to 10th on the WTA rankings.

Florida-based Osaka’s mixed heritage – she has a Japanese mother and Haitian-American father – her engaging personality and attacking style of play have combined to make her one of the world’s most marketable athletes.

Part of the stable of management group IMG, Osaka currently has 15 sponsorship deals, including with global brands such as Nike, Nissan Motors, Shiseido and Yonex.

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Naomi Osaka smashes highest-earning female athlete record and overtakes Serena Williams

Two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has become the world’s highest-earning female athlete in history.

The Japanese star made her breakthrough in 2018 when she won the US Open and then followed up by winning the Australian Open.

That success earnt her lucrative endorsements with Nike, Nissan, MasterCard, ANA and P&G amongst others.

And according to Forbes, Osaka raked in $37.4million over the past 12 months which surpasses the previous record of $29.7m set by Maria Sharapova in 2015.

Osaka’s earnings put her 29th in Forbes’ annual list of the 100 top-earning athletes with Serena Williams 33rd with $36m.

“To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story,” 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.”

Prior to Osaka’s rise, Williams and Sharapova had shared the title of being the highest-paid female athlete since 2011.

However, despite her success, Osaka admitted she sometimes struggles to cope with chronic shyness.

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“For me, I have a lot of regrets before I go to sleep, and most of the regret is that I don’t speak out about what I’m thinking,” she told CNN.

“I’m done being shy. It’s really a waste of my time.

“I could’ve shared so many ideas by now, I could’ve had convos with so many different people.

“All the things I could’ve learned but no I’m over here actually putting my own limiter on myself.

“I want to take the chance to tell people I appreciate them while I can.

“I would like to thank Jay-Z and Beyoncé for making music that motivates me, because there was a period in my life where I just watched Beyoncé performances to get motivated.

“Even right now I’m listening to older Jay-Z songs because I feel like they’re really chill.”

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Stefanos Tsitsipas reveals he’d love to replay specific Rafael Nadal showdown

Stefanos Tsitsipas says he would relish the opportunity to replay his match with Rafael Nadal at the 2019 Australian Open and ‘put up a better fight’. The Greek star had won the NextGen Finals in December 2018 and arrived in Australia for the opening Grand Slam of the year with plenty of eyes on him.

And he justified that attention by knocking out defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round.

He then reached his first Grand Slam semi-final by beating Roberto Bautista Agut and set up a showdown with Nadal.

But the occasion got the better of Tsitsipas, who was dispatched with ease by Nadal, who dropped just six games.

Speaking in an interview with Eurosport, Tsitsipas was asked to choose a match he would like to play again if given the chance and the defeat to Nadal was clearly still in his thoughts.

He said: “I wouldn’t mind repeating the match against Rafa Nadal at the Australian Open in 2019 where I got chopped up.

“I would like to repeat that simply because I am a different player to who I was then.

“And I think I carry much more experience with me on the court.

“I have a better understanding of my game plan. It’s no guarantee I would win, but I think I would put up a better fight.

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“Perhaps I would also say Nadal again, but this time in Toronto [in 2018] where I think if I’d have won the second set then it could have been interesting.

“It was a great week for me, the first set in that final I didn’t play well, I came in a bit sore but then I began to understand the game better and I found my pace.”

The other match selected by Tsitsipas was his memorable encounter with Swiss Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros last year.

The two single-handed backhand stars played out an epic battle on Suzanne Lenglen court but it was 2015 champion Wawrinka who edged the match 8-6 in the fifth set.

Tsitsipas was distraught at the manner of the defeat and unsurprisingly, he would like another shot at getting over the line.

“Another one was against Stan Wawrinka at the French Open last year – I felt heartbroken,” he said.

“It was difficult one to get over and I felt I was really close. I felt I deserved to win and I was one inside-out forehand away from getting a break that would have been important.

“He was more patient and he did really well and his experience counted for a lot. It’s the past and all you can do is learn for the next time.”

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Novak Djokovic shows he’s still got it with stunning athleticism – video

Novak Djokovic might have been in isolation for nearly three months but his incredible athleticism still remains after the world No 1 shared a video of himself sliding on a clay court to retrieve a ball.

After the coronavirus pandemic hit tennis, Djokovic left America and returned to Europe to his home in Marbella, Spain.

The tennis season has since been suspended and the hope is that tournaments can resume in August.

With the Spanish government enforcing a strict lockdown, athletes were unable to train outside but those measures have since been eased.

Earlier this month, Djokovic played tennis at the Puente Romano Marbella Tennis Club and shared the footage on social media.

However, the hotel were forced to issue an apology because sports facilities were not approved to reopen at that time.

This week, Djokovic has returned to the resort and has been able to practise with world No 428 Carlos Gomez Herrera.

And in another video posted on his social media channel, Djokovic showed he had lost none of his skills.

The footage sees Djokovic scream out loud as he sprints to his right and then in slow motion, he stretches out his racket while on the full slide and flicks the ball back into play.

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It was the type of skill tennis fans have seen on several occasions over the years and will be hoping to see on a tennis court soon.

Meanwhile, Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker has called on the young generation of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev to make their mark on the sport in 2021.

“Maybe 2021 will see the breakthrough of the young guns because they will be a year more experienced, and the older players are another year older,” Becker told Laureus.com.

“The big three have won everything multiple times. I think it’s for the younger generation to step up.

“The best one of the rest for the last two years has been Dominic Thiem. He’s made three major finals and played beautifully against Novak, losing in five sets in Melbourne.

“I like Stefanos Tsitsipas very much, the way he presents himself on and off the court and the way he plays the game.

“From a German point of view I like Sascha Zverev a lot, you know he was in the semi-final in Melbourne and he’s still only 22, so he has a long career ahead of him. There are other younger players that are fascinating.

“I would like to see the top three still at their best, and being beaten. I don’t want the young generation to take over when the top three won’t play anymore or are actually too old.

“I want to see a final between a 22-year-old and a 33-year-old. That would be the best thing in tennis. So guys, step up to the plate.”

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Uncle Toni reveals why he 'prefers' Nadal to face Federer rather than Djokovic

Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of Rafael Nadal, revealed he prefers his nephew to face Roger Federer rather than Novak Djokovic because they ‘have a way to beat him’.

Uncle Toni can’t say the same for world No. 1 Djokovic. Devising a game plan for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, in his words, is more ‘difficult’.

It shows in the head-to-head records. Nadal trails Djokovic 29-26 but leads Federer 24-16. Djokovic is also up 27-23 on Federer.

‘For us it was always more difficult to play against Djokovic,’ Toni Nadal told Eurosport. ‘Because it’s not about who of them is better.

‘For us, when we play against Federer, we have a way to beat him. In my mind, before going on court, I know what we have to do.

‘When we play against Djokovic, many times we didn’t know exactly what we had to do. This is more difficult, for me. I prefer to play against Federer.’

That said, Toni Nadal still rates Federer as the greatest of all time (GOAT), for the time being, at least.

And he admitted he would support ‘elegant but effective’ Federer if he wasn’t emotionally tied to Nadal.

‘For me, he’s a wonderful player,’ he added.

‘I like to watch Roger Federer a lot. If I wasn’t the uncle nor the coach of Rafael, I would want Federer to win all the matches.

‘But at the end, I like how he plays, because he’s very elegant but he’s very effective too.

‘I know Federer is the best ever with I don’t know who; maybe Rod Laver or maybe Rafael, he’s not too far. But at the moment Federer is the best.’

So what is the secret to beating Federer?

Toni Nadal said: ‘When we play against Federer, we know – at least, that’s what I said to Rafael – we have a way to beat Federer: play two, three, four times with a high ball over his backhand and then you can go forward and take the lead.’

Simple, right?

Toni Nadal and Carlos Moya were speaking to Eurosport as part of its Players’ Cut series which this week features Rafa Nadal. Players’ Cut airs from 6pm each evening this week on Eurosport 1.

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Kyrgios fires shots at Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem in boozy Murray Instagram chat

A booze-fuelled Nick Kyrgios was full of praise for Andy Murray during an Instagram Live between the pair on Saturday afternoon – but was less complimentary towards some of his colleagues on the men’s tennis tour.

The Aussie and the Brit announced they would chat together on the social media platform at 3pm UK time, which fell at midnight in Kyrgios’ Canberra home.

With a glass of red wine in hand, the Aussie bad boy claimed to have already seen off six glasses and Murray, stone-cold sober, was largely forced to sit through his drunken ramblings.

What was clear – and is no secret – is how highly Kyrgios regards Murray.

Of their first meeting, in Toronto six years ago, Kyrgios expressed his amazement at Murray’s ability to return his serve. In Kyrgios’ opinion, Rafael Nadal – who he had beaten at Wimbledon earlier that year – couldn’t handle it.

‘I’d beaten Rafa, he’s a mate of yours,’ said Kyrgios. ‘I beat him pretty convincingly at Wimby.

He regularly signs up for doubles events and Murray, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to team up with the 25-year-old in future – one the condition he ‘behaves’ himself.

At the Laver Cup – the Ryder Cup-style event which pits Europe against the rest of the world – Kyrgios is in his element.

When explaining his enjoyment of the competition, however, he couldn’t resist a swipe at European team members Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem.

‘Because it’s fun, they are my best buds (the world team). They are trying to be some European guys who have no banter, don’t give one ‘F’ about each other. Which pisses me off. Let’s be honest Tsitsipas and Zverev hate each other.’

‘I like to get up and about with the boys. Aussies and people from England, we are the same.

‘Do you think me and Dominic Thiem would vibe? No. I’m more invested in maybe, like, a nice cocktail. But my boy D Thiem would be like “I want to see this paint dry”.’

One suspects they will decline his invitation.

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Nick Kyrgios claims Andy Murray is better than Novak Djokovic during Instagram chat

Nick Kyrgios has reiterated his belief Andy Murray is a better tennis player than world No 1 Novak Djokovic while the British great has offered an encouraging update on his injury recovery.

The pair, who are known to be on good terms on tour, shared an entertaining – if not bizarre at times – chat via Instagram Live as the coronavirus continues to provide an intriguing access into athletes’ lives.

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Murray, who has already spoken to long-time rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic on social media since the start of the pandemic, appeared embarrassed as Kyrgios told the Scot is “one of the good ones” while drinking red wine.

“I think you should have one of the best careers ever,” said world No 40 Kyrgios.

“I think you are better than Djokovic. Djokovic was playing dodgeball on my serve and you were slapping it for a winner. He was trying to dodge it; you were on it like a light.”

In a typically expressionless reply, Murray said: “The results would suggest otherwise.”

Kyrgios showered Murray with continued praise during the light-hearted conversation, telling the former world No 1 he was “better than the Big Three”.

The Australian referenced a one-sided defeat to Murray at the Rogers Cup in Montreal in 2014, a month after Kyrgios emerged to wider consciousness with a stunning victory against the Spaniard at Wimbledon.

“I literally felt like I didn’t know what tennis was that day,” Kyrgios said. “I wanted to walk off after the first four games, honestly.”

He added: “When you returned my serve, which Rafa didn’t, I knew I was in trouble.”

Novak or Nadal or feds or anyone next? Let’s be OPEN & HONEST

Kyrgios also pleaded with Murray to “give the people what they want” and form a doubles partnership, while the two-time Wimbledon champion indicated he should return to tour from a pelvic injury when the ATP Tour eventually resumes.

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Navratilova says Federer, Nadal, Williams and Djokovic will be 'going nuts'

Martina Navratilova believes the likes of Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be ‘going nuts’ as they sit on frustrated amid the coronavirus crisis.

The group are widely considered among the greatest tennis players of all time and Navratilova thinks they all will be ruing the ‘time lost’.

Federer, Nadal, Williams and Djokovic are all in hot pursuit of tennis history but their charges have been temporarily halted until July 13 at the earliest.

‘The Big Three’ are all vying to end their careers as the most successful male player of all time. Nadal had the opportunity to equal Federer’s 20-Slam haul at the suspended French Open, while 17-time major winner Djokovic – the youngest of the trio – is within striking distance of both.

It’s a familiar feeling for Williams, who has been just one Slam behind Margaret Court’s 24-major haul since 2017 – losing four finals in that spell – but at 38, time is running out.

Federer is the same age and Navratilova sympathises most with the pair most, with future chances likely few and far between as they approach their 40s.

‘Only war has stopped major tournaments happening, now we have this pandemic and for players like Roger Federer and, of course, Serena Williams, it’s time lost,’ Navratilova told Laureus.com.

‘Particularly Serena, Wimbledon being her best chance to break Margaret Court’s record. She’s stuck on 23 and tries to get to 24, maybe 25. It’s an opportunity lost, when you’re not getting any younger. If I was sitting in that position I’d be going nuts that I can’t play.

‘Everybody’s in the same boat, but for the old players  like Roger and even Rafa Nadal and, particularly, Serena Williams, it’s more difficult, no doubt about it.

‘I sympathise with them, because this is an enemy you can’t rehab, you can’t fight against, you just hope it will go away and we can play next year.

‘Novak Djokovic is right behind Roger and Rafa chasing the major titles, but I think the one that’s most affected would be Roger Federer because he’s the eldest by quite a bit.

‘But you have to deal with it. As Billie Jean King said “champions adjust”.’

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Naomi Osaka using coronavirus lockdown to conquer her inner demons

Two-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is using the novel coronavirus shutdown as one of self reflection to try and overcome her crippling shyness.

The tennis season was suspended in early March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the hiatus will continue until at least mid-July with many countries in lockdown to contain the virus.

Japan’s Osaka, who trains in the United States, the country worst affected by the flu-like virus with over 1.4 million infections and more than 83,000 deaths, is taking advantage of the extended break to do some soul searching.

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“I think people know me as being really shy, I want to take the quarantine time to just think about everything, and for me, I have a lot of regrets before I go to sleep,” Osaka told CNN Sport.

Petra Kvitova said last year Osaka would have to get used to having a target on her back after the Japanese said she struggled to deal with increased scrutiny in the wake of her rise to the top of the world rankings.

“Most of the regrets are because I don’t speak out about what I’m thinking. I feel like if I asserted myself, I would have gotten the opportunity to see what would have happened,” Osaka said.

Osaka, who became the first Japanese player to attain the world number one ranking following her 2019 Australian Open victory, believes tennis is not a top priority at the moment.

“I want to take this time to learn something new because I’m pretty sure I won’t have this much free time ever again. It’s not like I’ll forget how to play tennis,” the world number 10 added.

With no access to gyms and tennis courts, the 22-year-old found a training partner in former world number one Venus Williams, with the two sharing a workout session on social media.

“I don’t want to train five hours a day right now because I think that’s how you get burned out and you never know when tournaments will start again,” Osaka said.

“I did an Instagram live with Venus just now. It was kind of more intense than I thought it was going to be.

“For some reason I thought we were going to be stretching, but yeah, we were doing a bit of movement drills and then lunges and stuff.” Reuters

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The Ultimate 80s Tennis QUIZ! Think you know everything about the 1980s?

The time has come to try your hand at the ultimate 80s tennis quiz. Think you know everything about the greatest decade of them all?

‘I’ve got love for you if you were born in the 80s, the 80s!’ From Back to the Future to the Rubik’s Cube, how’s your tennis knowledge from the decade?

From John McEnroe to Martina Navratilova, we’ve compiled 18 of the very best questions for all you fun-loving retro 80s fans.

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