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Serena Williams Vs. Naomi Osaka: By The Numbers

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Serena Williams Vs. Naomi Osaka: By The Numbers by Kenyans247(1): Thu 18, February, 2021 08:23am
The two biggest stars in women’s tennis square off in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday night (Thursday afternoon Aussie time). A finals berth is on the line as Naomi Osaka guns for a second straight Grand Slam victory, after winning the U.S. Open in September, while Serena Williams chases a record-tying 24th major title.

Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams leave the court after their match during an exhibition tournament last month in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES

It is their fourth career matchup, excluding an exhibition match in Australia last month. The most famous, of course, came at the 2018 U.S. Open, which launched Osaka as a marketing star but ended in controversy when Williams was penalized a point and then a game for “code” violations. Osaka has often spoken of her admiration for Williams.

They are the two highest-paid female athletes on the planet by a landslide, both earning at least five times as much as any other female athlete when it comes to endorsements. Tennis is the one sport where women are on a somewhat equal footing with men in terms of earnings, but Williams and Osaka have separated themselves from the pack, steered by the WME and IMG arms of talent agency giant Endeavor.

You can catch the action on ESPN2 starting around 10 p.m. EST. Here is a look at the two tennis aces by the numbers.

1: Osaka reached No. 1 in the WTA’s rankings in January 2019, becoming the first Asian-born player, male or female, to top the world rankings. Her two runs on top totaled 25 weeks.

3: Osaka’s current world rank; Williams is No. 11.

4: Olympic gold medals for Williams, including three in doubles with her sister Venus.

Gold medalists Serena and Venus Williams celebrate during the medal ceremony for the Women's Doubles Tennis at the London 2012 Olympic Games. GETTY IMAGES

6: Osaka has only six career singles titles but has made them count, with half of them Slam wins.

7: Masks Naomi brought to New York for last year’s Open, each with the name of a Black victim of racist violence or police brutality. She got to wear all seven en route to the title. When asked on court after the finals win what message she wanted to send with the masks, she shot back: “What was the message that you got, is more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”

19: Osaka enters her semifinal faceoff on a 19-match win streak.

22: Any Japanese people who have dual citizenship must choose one nationality before they turn 22. It was a weighty choice for Naomi, who was born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian American father. She chose Japanese and is expected to be one of the faces of the delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics, with a bevy of Japanese brands on her endorsement roster.

50: Williams launched Serena Ventures in 2014 and has invested in more than 50 startups, with a focus on companies founded by women or people of color.

73: Career titles for Williams, fifth most in history.

85.2%: Career winning percentage for Williams.

319: Williams has been the No. 1 player in the world for 319 weeks during her career—third most in history—and most recently in 2017. She originally set a record in 2013 as the oldest No. 1 at 31.

1995: Williams made her pro debut as a wild card that year and lost 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of qualifying. She didn’t return to the tour until 1997, the year Osaka was born. She won her first Slam at the U.S. Open two years later.

$216,000: Average household income for fans at the 2019 U.S. Open. Well-heeled tennis fans are the reason that brands for financial services, watches, cars and more pay top dollar for the sport’s stars to pitch their wares.

30.4 million: Combined social media followers for Williams on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

$37.4 million: Osaka’s 12-month earnings tally, including prize money, endorsements and appearance fees. It was a record for a female athlete. She ranked No. 29 among the 100 highest-paid athletes while Williams was No. 33.

Osaka is riding a 19-match winning streak heading into the Australian Open semifinals. GETTY IMAGES

$93.6 million: Career prize money for Williams, which is $52 million more than her sister Venus, who ranks second in history, has collected. Osaka is No. 22 at $17.8 million.

$225 million: Net worth for Williams.

$360 million: Career earnings for Williams from prize money, appearances and endorsements, as of June 2020.

$2.9 billion: Value of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, of which Williams owns a small sliver. Osaka joined the team owner ranks last month when she bought a stake in the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage.

Kurt Badenhausen
I am a senior editor at Forbes and focused mainly on the business of sports and our annual franchise valuations. I also spend a lot of my time digging into what athletes earn on and off the field of play. I've profiled a bunch of athletes that go by one name: LeBron, Shaq, Danica and others. I also started our biennial B-School rankings; annual features on the Best Places for Business (metros, states and countries); and America's Best Banks. I joined Forbes in 1998 after working 3 years at Financial World magazine. Email: kbadenhausen@forbes.com.


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