The curious case of Naomi Osaka is a rather extraordinary business really, given that she has only ever won five tournaments throughout her tennis career. Just four of those victories were recorded at the premier events on the WTA Tour – two of those wins are Grand Slam singles titles though.
Naomi Osaka has only lost two WTA Tour finals. That is also worth noting.
While Forbes Magazine has officially recognized Naomi Osaka as the highest paid female athlete of all time, after she collected a total of $37-million in earnings for the 2019 calendar year, it is also worth noting that the bulk of those earnings came from endorsement deals.
We might touch on some of those endorsement deals another time, but the astonishing reality is that Naomi Osaka has not actually won a considerable amount during her fledgling career – and it is a fledgling career at best.
We will hear a lot more about her in future, there is no doubt about it.
How Much Money Did Naomi Osaka Win in 2019?
During the 2019 calendar year, Naomi Osaka actually won just three WTA tournaments. Those victories were recorded at the Australian Open, China Open and Pan Pacific Open. The latter is not as significant a victory as the first two.
At the end of the 2019 WTA campaign, Naomi Osaka walked away with just under $7-million. It sounds like a tremendous amount but those season earnings leave Naomi Osaka outside the top two prize-money winners in women’ tennis for that calendar year.
Naomi Osaka was placed behind Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty and the darling girl of Romanian tennis Simona Halep. Simona Halep finished ahead of Naomi Osaka, in earnings, during the 2018 campaign too, despite Osaka conquering Flushing Meadows – her first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open.
For those who watched that match, it was also a dramatic affair – primarily because her opponent Serena Williams could not accept a decision that an umpire made during the course of the contest.
As it just so happens, Williams is also the player who previously held the record for total earnings by a female tennis player in a calendar year. Sometimes these things are just written in the stars. Has there ever been a more seamless changing of the guard in women’s tennis? But we digress. The point here is that Naomi Osaka could have actually made a lot more money in 2019 and everybody knows it.
Despite winning the Australian Open at the start of the 2019 campaign, Naomi Osaka did not make it past the fourth round at any of the other four Grand Slam tournaments that season. That fourth round run came during the defence of her US Open crown, which went up in smoke far quicker than anybody had anticipated.
How Much Did Naomi Osaka Win At The 2019 Australian Open?
The 107th edition of the Australian Open was hosted at Melbourne Park in January of 2019.
The total tournament purse that year was A$62.5-million – a 14 percent increase from the previous year. The total purse for the 2019 Australian Open was also a tournament record.
Osaka entered the women’ singles draw as the tournament’s number four seed, behind Halep, Angelique Kerber and women’s singles defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
All three of those women were knocked out of the tournament before the quarter-final stage. In the Australian Open women’s singles final, Osaka beat Czech Petra Kvitova in three gruelling sets on Rod Laver.
The final score was 7-6 5-7 6-4. It seldom gets closer than that in the women’s singles contest at the Grand Slam tournaments. For her efforts, Osaka walked away with a cool A$4.1-million, and boy did she earn it that year.
It is also worth mentioning that for her victory, Osaka walked away from the tournament with 2000 ranking points on the WTA Tour. That is a significant detail in the context of her total earnings as a tennis player that year.
At the start of the 2019 Australian Open, 11 women were actually in contention to walk away from the tournament as the number one ranked tennis player in the world.
Included in that list were Halep, Kvitova, Osaka, Sloane Stephens, Karolína Plíšková, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Aryna Sabalenka and Daria Kasatkina.
Most of them fell by the wayside astonishingly quickly, such was the nature of women’s tennis in 2019. Everything was up for grabs as the legendary Serena Williams was no longer at the peak of her powers on the tennis court. Time is a leveller indeed.
Nevertheless, Osaka shot up to the summit of women’s tennis following her victory at the 2019 Australian Open – for which she earned 2000 WTA ranking points.
That was also her second Grand Slam singles title and in the context of women’s tennis right now, that kind of performance grabs the attention of sponsors the world over.
It is also significant that Osaka is a Japanese tennis player. Tennis is not a sport that the Japanese have traditionally excelled in over the years.
The fact Osaka also managed to win her first two Grand Slam singles titles back-to-back is also significant, as it is the first time this has happened since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.
Capriati won the Australian Open and Roland Garros back-to-back that season. For women’s tennis and the people of Japan, Naomi Osaka is serious business.
How Much Did Naomi Osaka Win At The Other Three Grand Slam Events Of 2019?
The next Grand Slam tournament for Naomi Osaka came at Roland Garros, traditionally the second Grand Slam event of the year. Osaka was bounced from that tournament in the third round, where she lost to Kateřina Siniaková in straight sets.
Up to that point Osaka had won 16 consecutive singles matches in Grand Slam tournaments. She was (is) a tv broadcaster’s dream.
As it so happens, that defeat was a harbinger of things to come for the remainder of her 2019 season, after parting ways with her coach. A strange development we will have to touch on a bit later or perhaps another time.
The total tournament purse at the 2019 Roland Garros was 42.6-million euros. Of that money, Osaka only managed to walk away with a paltry 143,000 euros. Osaka also only walked away from Roland Garros with just 130 WTA ranking points. It was a forgettable campaign indeed.
Osaka did manage to stay at the summit of women’s tennis though, albeit by a thread this time.
The drama continued at SW19 in 2019, where Naomi Osaka was bundled out of the Grass Court Slam in the first round, where she lost to the pocket rocket Yulia Putintseva in straights.
They say the Kazakh player has the best legs in tennis – just a minor mental note.
The organizers of Wimbledon parted ways with 38-million pounds after the 2019 Championships – a 12 percent increase from the previous year. Osaka only pocketed 45,000 of that in the end.
To rub salt into the Japanese player’s wounds, she also only managed to walk away with 10 WTA ranking points at the end of that campaign. Her singles ranking was slipping and it was slipping quickly.
Expectations were high ahead of Osaka’s trip to Flushing Meadows, where she would have the chance to defend her first Grand Slam singles title. As it so happens, not everything will go to script in tennis. Osaka is learning this the hard way. You just aren’t going to win all the time. Fortunately she also seems to understand that.
Osaka was bounced from the tournament in the fourth round, where she lost to Belinda Bencic in straights. Straight sets defeats at the Grand Slam events were fast becoming a habit for Osaka, as were defeats to Bencic in general.
The Japanese star walked away from the tournament with just 240 WTA ranking points. To add insult to injury, she only cashed in on $280,000. It could have been $3,850,000. Such is life.
The US Open prize money was $57,238,700, a more than 13 percent increase on the total tournament purse for the previous year’s event.
How Did Naomi Osaka End Her 2019 Tennis Season?
The simple answer to that question is that she ended the season with total heartbreak. Due to compete in the WTA Finals, Osaka was still in contention for the year-end number one ranking at the time. She could have achieved that, had she won the tournament.
However, Osaka’s WTA Finals campaign was over before it even started, as she had to pull out of the tournament with a right shoulder injury. It never rains but it pours.
Had she competed in that campaign and won, she could have walked away with $4.42-million, the most prize money ever won by any player at a single tournament in tennis history, male or female.
That is just how the cookie tends to crumble sometimes. In the end it was in fact Barty who walked away with that whopping load of cash. Osaka walked away with nothing.
Osaka Fails With Indian Wells Title Defence, But That Is Not All
The misery continued for Osaka outside of the Grand Slam tournaments in 2019, when she failed to defend her title at Indian Wells. Bencic beat her in straight sets in the fourth round. For that, Osaka walked away with a paltry $91,205. She could have walked away from the California Desert with $1,354,010.
Osaka lost in the third round, after three tough sets against Hieh Su-wei at the Miami Open – another tough result at one of the big events for the women’s tennis season.
Osaka then had to make do with just $48,775, after that failed campaign. Had she won, Osaka could have walked away with $1,354,010.
Osaka lost to Bencic again in 2019, when she was knocked out of the Madrid Open – another marquee event- in the quarter-final. This time, Bencic had to work a little harder for the win though. It took three gruelling sets in a typically hot Madrid.
Naomi Osaka did win 160,920 euros for her efforts in Madrid but she could have walked away with 1,202,520 euros had she won the tournament. That is the kind of financial detail that does tend to sting – even at the best of times.
Earlier in this blog post, we did mention the 2019 success at the China Open, which is a useful win to have under the belt during an otherwise dry regular WTA Tour season. Osaka beat the other female player riding on serious form at the moment, Barty. She needed three tight sets to do it though.
For her efforts in this campaign, Osaka walked away with a cool $1,523,265. Not too shabby.
The stop in Dubai is normally a memorable one for tennis players competing on the WTA Tour. It was not to be the case for Osaka in 2019 though. France’s Kiki Mladenovic knocked her out of the tournament in the second round – in straight sets too. That campaign was worth just $15,240 for Naomi Osaka – painful.
The Dubai campaign was actually the real harbinger of things to come for Osaka in 2019, given that the tournament takes place so early in the year. She could have won $520,615, which would have been some handy cash at that stage in the 2019 season, especially after the success at Melbourne Park just weeks earlier. But as they say, you can’t win them all.
Another opportunity to win some seriou cash presented itself at the 2019 Italian Open, another marquee tournament on the WTA Tour calendar. However, it was not to be for Osaka. The Japanese star withdrew from the tournament in the quarter-finals.
She walked away with 60,240 euros for making it that far in the campaign but the tale could have been a lot brighter. Had she continued and gone on to win the tournament Osaka could have picked up a cheque worth 523,858 euros.
Another quarter-final exit was recorded in 2019 – this time at the Rogers Cup. Serena Williams knocked Osaka out in straights. Again, a campaign which paid $60,455, when it could have paid $521,530.
Finally, Osaka was forced to retire at Cincinnati – during her quarter-final fixture against future Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
Another $62,660 which could very easily have been $544,500. When you consider all of the missed opportunities it is actually scary to think about the revenue that Osaka could actually have generated during the 2019 campaign.
Firstly, there is the prize money – and that is awfully grand – but there is also the sponsorship interest that comes with winning more of the high profile tournaments. The fact that Osaka is already Japan’s most successful tennis player (male or female) is not lost on anybody.
Since Osaka’s emergence, Japan has returned to World Group II in the Fed Cup. The prospect of competing in the main draw of the Fed Cup is now very real and Osaka is a very big part of that story. Japan and all of her major corporations know it too. There is a lot of national pride on the tennis court these days.
It is worth noting that Osaka’s tournament earnings started to tumble after the 2019 Australian Open, the last Grand Slam event that she won with Sascha Bajin as her coach.
Osaka parted ways with Bajin after that Melbourne Park campaign, citing the need to prioritise happiness over success. Well…she got exactly what she was looking for in that regard.
There might need to be a reunion of some sort there in the near future – we would venture to say sooner rather than later.
Afterall, Pride isn’t Power!