2018 U.S. Open women’s tennis champion Naomi Osaka is winning both on and off the court. After defeating Serena Williams, the 20-year-old Haitian and Japanese athlete has become a household name. According to Business Insider, Osaka is slated to make history by inking the biggest deal that Adidas has ever offered to a woman athlete.
Osaka is reportedly working on a deal with the sports brand that is worth $8.5 million per year, the news outlet writes. The deal could possibly make her one of the highest-paid women in the realm of sports; out-earning her tennis opponents. Osaka currently has a contract with Adidas for six figures which is ending this year.
It seems as if the Adidas deal is just the beginning of more endorsements to come for Osaka. She recently signed a three-year endorsement deal with Nissan to be one of their brand ambassadors. “With a combination of grit and grace, Naomi Osaka is not afraid to take on the best tennis players of our time, and win,” Asako Hoshino, Senior Vice President, Nissan, told the news outlet. Osaka is humbled to represent the brand and says she was drawn to Nissan because of its “strong Japanese DNA and global competitive spirit.”
Osaka’s win over Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open garnered a lot of attention after Williams was hit with a slew of unjust code violations for coaching, breaking a racket, and her exchange of words with umpire Carlos Ramos. Despite the drama surrounding the match, the tennis veteran displayed sportsmanship by giving her opponent encouraging words as the crowd booed the outcome. “She said that she was proud of me and that I should know that the crowd wasn’t booing at me. So, I was really happy that she said that,” said Osaka during a recent appearance on The Ellen Show.
The U.S. is one of 13 countries in the world where maternal mortality rates are worse than they were two decades ago. And that alarming statistic hits one group of women the hardest.
For women of color, pregnancy and childbirth are often a matter of life and death. The risk of death from pregnancy-related causes for black women is three to four times higher than for women of other races. It’s something California Senator Kamala Harris has been vocal about in the past. And she’s pushing to make sure this maternal mortality crisis is being recognized and rectified through new legislation, as well.
Harris (along with 13 Democratic colleagues) introduced a bill Wednesday that she hopes will help lessen the discrepancies in treatment. The Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Actwould create two grant programs. One will address implicit bias based on stereotypes by supporting special training programs in medical, nursing, and other training schools. The other will incentivize maternal health care providers to offer integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers and reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, maternal deaths, and racial health disparities.
“Health equity for Black women can only happen if we recognize and address persistent biases in our health system,” Harris said in a press release.
The maternal health of black women has long been suffered in the dark, but in recent months we’ve heard harrowing stories of pregnancy and childbirth complications from two of the most famous women in the world: Serena Williams and Beyoncé.
Williams has been incredibly open about her emergency C-section, followed by blood clots in her lungs that threatened her life and required further surgery. And the intensely private Beyoncé revealed in Vogue‘s September issue that she had been on bed rest prior to the birth of twins Rumi and Sir due to toxemia (or preeclampsia) which causes swelling and hypertension. She, too, required an emergency C-section as her life, and the lives of her twins, were at risk.
According to the CDC, the cause of an increase of pregnancy-related mortalities in America is unclear. For women of color, who face a myriad of health care disparities from access to racial bias perpetuated by stereotypes, the combination has proved life-threatening. Racism, researchers say, is at the center of this crisis.
“For example, even when we take medical history into account, black women are two to three times more like to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women with the same condition. And while maternal mortality rates are certainly greater for poor women than wealthier women, poverty alone can’t explain these disparities either. An analysis of maternal deaths in New York City found that black women who had at least a college degree still had greater mortality rates than white women who had not graduated high school,” obstetrician and gynecologist Jamila Perritt wrote for Glamour after Williams came forward with her childbirth experience.
“The bottom line is, black women are dying wholly preventable deaths.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that Sen. Harris’ bill could face an “uphill battle” given that Republicans currently control Congress and few bills may pass in an election year. Other sponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“This bill is a step towards ensuring that all women have access to culturally competent, holistic care, and to address the implicit biases in our system,” Harris said.
Despite a 14-month maternity leave, Serena Williams has topped Forbes’ “Highest-Paid Female Athlete” list for the third consecutive year.
Due to her pregnancy in January 2017, Williams was off the court for the majority of the past year, leaving her with only $62,000 in winnings. Still, the 23-time Grand Slam champion collected twice as many off-court coins than any other female athlete.
Earning $18.1 million in endorsements, Williams was able to top the list by over $5 million, with Australian Open winner Dane Caroline Wozniacki second in line.
Though Forbes did not include a woman in their ranking of the world’s top 100 highest earning athletes of 2018 after Williams’ earnings fell by approximately $10 million since the year prior, only 16 male athletes earned more than Williams in sponsorship money over the last 12 months.
In addition to over a dozen sponsors including Nike, Intel, Audemars Piguet, JPMorgan Chase, Lincoln, Gatorade and Beats, Williams also launched her first solo fashion compilation, Serena, in May.
Williams is currently gearing up to match Margaret Court’s 24 grand slam title record at this year’s US Open.
Although Serena Williams might just be the greatest tennis player of all time, she still has something to prove.
After giving birth to her first daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., last September, Williams’ climb back to the top has been tough. The tennis champ won her first match back on the court in March at Indian Wells but was sent home by her sister, Venus. Later that month, Williams suffered a first-round defeat at the Miami Open, however, she’s been putting in work to reclaim her crown.
On Monday, Williams kicked off the French Open with a win, defeating the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets.
After the match, Williams praised her opponent. “She played really really well,” Williams said before turning her attention to her comeback. “It’s been two years since I played on clay. It’s been a really long time but I trained really hard on the clay.”
Williams is no stranger to the French Open and has won the Grand Slam tournament three times: in 2002, 2013, and 2015. Still, she said she’s not taking anything for granted. “I feel good. I’m just happy to have won a match here,” Williams said. “I’m just taking it a day at a time.”
Williams, who donned a fabulous all-black catsuit for her return to the Grand Slam stage, said the form-fitting choice was a shout out to “all the moms out there that had a tough pregnancy and had to come back and try to be fierce.”
Serena Williams, undoubtedly one of the most important athletes of all time, has certainly had an extraordinary year. Aside from her many professional accomplishments, the tennis player has gotten married and given birth. And now she will lend her name to something totally unexpected: a building in Nike‘s Beaverton, Oregon, world headquarters. The company announced Wednesday that four new structures will open in 2019 as part of its campus expansion. Two buildings will be named after athletes, Serena Williams and former track-and-field star Sebastian Coe, while a fitness center will be named after Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, of Duke University.
When completed, the Serena Williams building will be the largest structure at the headquarters (deserving), spanning more than 1 million square feet and nearly three city blocks. Serena, for her part, was so excited about the development that she took to Instagram to reflect on her year of major accomplishments.
She wrote, “What a year it has been. First a grand slam win followed by a awesome baby… than the most magical wedding. What next? How about a building!!… Nike announced yesterday that one of its new world headquarters buildings will be named after me. It will be the biggest on campus and is scheduled to open in 2019. I am honored and grateful! #TeamNike @nike.” Serena has been a Nike athlete since December 2003, and the company declared her “one of the greatest athletes of all time and one of the most inspiring people in sport” in their recent statement.
Unseeded Sloane Stephens, who was ranked No. 957 in the world less than two months ago, soared to the top of the tennis world on Saturday with a powerful 6-3, 6-0 victory over 15th-ranked fellow American Madison Keys in the U.S. Open women’s finals.
Stephens, who underwent foot surgery and missed 11 months of competitive play, was confident but patient from the start on Saturday in this matchup of two first-time Grand Slam finalists. She broke Keys’ serve in the first set to take a 3-2 lead, capitalizing on Keys’ nervousness. She won the first set on her second chance, when Keys hit a forehand long, and needed three chances to win the match and the title.
When Keys hit a forehand into the net to end it, Stephens put her hand over her mouth as if in disbelief, closed her eyes for an instant, and then joined the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium in celebrating. “I told her I wish there could have been a draw because I wish we would have both won,” Stephens said. “My journey’s been incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Stephens, 24, and Keys, 22, embraced at the net for several moments. Keys, who had overcome injury problems of her own — she had two wrist surgeries in the last year — appeared to be crying as the two friends hugged. Afterward, they sat together and smiled as they waited for the winner’s and runner-up trophies to be awarded. “Sloane is truly one of my favorite people,” Keys said on the court after the match. “Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis but Sloane was very supportive. If there’s someone I have to lose to today, I’m glad it’s her.”
It was only the seventh time in tennis’ Open Era and second at the U.S. Open that two first-time finalists had played for a Grand Slam title. It also was the 10th time two American women met in the U.S. Open singles final. The last time was in 2002, when Serena Williams defeated her sister, Venus Williams.
This year, Equal Pay Day was on April 4 to mark the extra three months and a few days that women in general have to work in order to make as much as men do in a year, with the pay gap at around 80 cents to the dollar. But the gap is worse when you take race into account, with Black women only making 67 cents to every dollar.
Thus, Black women have to work 19 months to make what white men make in 12. To mark the day, celebrities and other notable women have all come together to stand for equal pay for all women, especially those who are disadvantages twice over.
While many celebrities, such as Tracee Ellis Ross, took to Twitter to explain the significance of the date, others used the platform to specifically call for change. “We need to do more to address the economic injustice that exists at the intersection of gender & race. #BlackWomensEqualPay,” wrote Senator Kamala Harris.
Others, like Remy Ma, expressed messages of consolidation and support: “Black women are the cornerstone of our communities, they are phenomenal & they deserve equal pay.”
According to colorlines.com, Serena Williams recently paid homage to the famous Vanity Fair cover of a nude, pregnant Demi Moore, by having the same photographer, Annie Leibovitz, shoot her recent pregnancy cover in a similar pose (the hand on that hip though – all Serena). Leibovitz also shot all of the story’s photos, including black-and-white images of Williams with Alexis Ohanian, her Armenian-American fiancé who co-founded Reddit.
The cover story focuses on Williams and Ohanian’s account of their year-and-a-half courtship, engagement last December and her subsequent pregnancy. Williams also discusses her plan to return to tennis in January, roughly three months after her child’s anticipated birthdate.
Read the article and view the full set of photos here.
Serena Williams has signed on as the newest ambassador for Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, the insurance company’s decade-old initiative to provide financial empowerment to domestic abuse victims. The pregnant tennis star takes over for Kerry Washington as ambassador of the organization, which says it has helped about one million women escape abusive relationships through a mix of financial education and job training.
In explaining her decision to sign on, Williams told Mic.com, “Not a lot of people really know about financial abuse. It’s an invisible but also really devastating form of domestic abuse that traps victims in these harmful relationships.”One reason financial abuse is so prevalent, Williams said, is because it takes many different — sometimes subtle — forms.
An abuser might contact their partner’s employer, for example, and undermine their ability to stay on the job. Or the abuser might take out and use credit cards in their partner’s name.“If a woman’s credit is ruined, she can’t get an apartment,” Williams pointed out. “Most of the time when people leave abusive relationships, they have this awful debt and that can take years and years to recover, especially if they have kids.”
Williams’s announcement on Thursday (June 22) came with a newly-released hidden-camera style video by Purple Purse — showing ride-sharing passengers who get into a car and discover a purse that has been left behind. Soon, a phone inside the purse begins ringing, and the passengers then see a series of alarming texts that indicate an abusive relationship. The video’s message? If you see something, say something, says Vicky Dinges, Allstate senior vice president for corporate responsibility, who heads the project.
Serena Williams held up a Grand Slam winner’s trophy for the 23rd time, celebrating her unrivalled place in history, and received a congratulatory letter and a pair of custom-made shoes from Michael Jordan, the name most synonymous with No. 23.
Venus Williams got to watch from close range again, and shed tears more of joy than regret after being beaten in a major final for the seventh time by her record-breaking younger sister.
Serena won the all-Williams final, the ninth in Grand Slam history and the second in Australia, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday. With her record seventh Australian Open title, Serena moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era.
When Serena sat on the court, holding both arms up to celebrate on Saturday, Venus walked over to her sister’s side of the net for a hug. “This was a tough one,” Serena said. “I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person — she’s my inspiration. There’s no way I would be at 23 without her — there’s no way I would be at one without her. Thank you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard.”
Asked if it felt awkward to be on the receiving end of so many losses to her sister, the 36-year-old Venus didn’t flinch. “No, because I guess I’ve been here before,” she said. “I really enjoy seeing the name Williams on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing.”
Venus won the last of her seven majors in 2008 at Wimbledon. She didn’t make the second week of a major for a few years as she came to terms with an energy-sapping illness after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011. And she only made it back to the semifinals last year at Wimbledon.