Naomi Osaka appears set to become the WTA's No. 1 in off-court earnings in addition to being No. 1 on court, as reflected by a special exemption in her new clothing sponsorship with Nike.
The apparel company typically restricts its athletes from wearing other sponsor patches on their clothing, but it appears this will not apply to Japan's Osaka, who currently wears patches for two Japanese corporations.
Confirmation from Naomi Osaka's agent, Stuart Duguid, that Osaka will continue to wear her sponsor patches (Nissin, ANA) even after switching to Nike, which normally does not allow its athletes to put patches on Nike clothes.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) April 6, 2019
Li Na was first high-profile exception to that rule.
The rare exception has been given to just a few highly-sought athletes in lucrative markets, the first being China's two-time Grand Slam champion Na Li, whose sponsorship earnings reached around $18 million during her career. Both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have been the world's highest-paid female athletes during their career, with more than $20 million in earnings.
Osaka could now be approaching similar territory, with two Grand Slam victories and, according to her agency IMG, six new sponsorships since becoming a Slam champion.
No figures have been released for Nike's agreement with Osaka, but The Times had previously indicated that her representatives would be seeking more than $8 million from then-clothing partner adidas.
Osaka's agent, IMG's Stuart Duguid, told Forbes that additional companies were also interested in having the 21-year-old wear their names.
Osaka's off-court earnings were around $1.5 million before she won the US Open, according to Forbes.
The No. 1, who announced her clothing switch by appearing at a NBA Lakers game dressed in Nike, will first compete in the company's apparel at Stuttgart.
Osaka will be coming off a third round exit at Miami.