Naomi Osaka is reportedly facing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit by her former coach, who says the Grand Slam champion owes him 20 percent of her career earnings, reported the Florida Sun-Sentinel.
In 2011, Christophe Jean was hired by Osaka’s father to be a junior coach for her and her sister, Mari, the lawsuit states. Jean claimed Osaka’s father, Leonard Francois, was unable to pay for the coaching, so they created a contract granting Jean 20 percent of her prize money and endorsements for an “indefinite” period.
Now, Jean says he is entitled to at least $2 million of the $10.8 million prize money Osaka, 21, collected during her career.
“Both parties agree on a fixed fee of twenty percent or monetary agreement on behalf of Marie [sic] Osaka and Naomi Osaka,’’ a central clause reads in the contract reads, according to the lawsuit.
Although Jean’s lawyer, Christopher Hahn, says the contract is legal and binding, Osaka’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, called the alleged contract “absurd.”
“While it comes as no surprise that Naomi's meteoric rise as an international icon and inspiration would lead to some false claim, this silly, imaginary contract that Naomi never saw or signed — which purports to give away part of herself at the age of 14 — is particularly absurd,” Spiro told the Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Additionally, a number of people on The Shade Room said they find the lawsuit "riduculous" and believe the coach is trying to take advantage of Osaka's success.
Jean coached the girls for two years until they stopped showing up for practice. Other tennis professionals including Patrick Tauma and Sascha Bajin then coached Osaka. In March, Osaka hired Jermaine Jenkins, a former hitting coach for Venus Williams, as her new coach, reported ESPN.
Osaka’s career quickly drew global attention after she became the 10th woman in history to win the U.S. Open and Australian Open back to back, reported Japan Times.
(Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)