Why Giving Tennis Star Naomi Osaka a Huge Deal Would Be Great for Adidas

Naomi Osaka made history with her win over Serena Williams at the 2018 U.S. Open, becoming the first Japanese-born tennis player to earn a Grand Slam title. And that victory could secure her a lucrative deal with Adidas.

According to a report from The Times, the new contract with the Three Stripes could be worth roughly $8.5 million a year and may be announced tomorrow. The deal, a Yahoo! report states, would be the biggest Adidas has given to a female athlete.

Adidas said in an email to FN that it cannot comment on anything related to the partnership with Osaka.

And if Osaka’s megadeal comes to fruition, an industry insider believes the rising star athlete will be a solid asset for Adidas.

“I think Serena [Williams] is probably the greatest athlete today, man or woman, in any sport. For Osaka to beat her says a lot. I think that’s clearly an opportunity,” said Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for sports at The NPD Group.

While Powell said he believes brands should spend exorbitant amounts of money to sign an athlete, he added that Osaka has plenty of upsides to invest in.

“She’s a terrific athlete, and she’s won at a very high level. That’s always a good thing. Brands want athletes performing at a high level wearing their products,” Powell said. “Also, she’s a fresh face, she’s very much millennial/Gen Z, she’s got a wild haircut, she’s a fun kid — all of that is good.”

But Powell warned against solely using Osaka to push tennis product.

“Tennis as an equipment and apparel business is pretty tight. Even if she’s now going to be a better player than Serena, she’s not going to bring in significant amounts of money because people just aren’t playing the game,” Powell explained.

Instead, the industry expert offered a suggestion.

“If they give her a broader role in marketing, if they treat her more as a sportswear advocate than a tennis shoe advocate, that helps them,” he said. “That might be an effective way to leverage her further.”

Osaka defeated Williams in the U.S. Open final on Sept. 8 and is now No. 7 overall in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings.

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