Naomi Osaka (born October 16, 1997) is a Japanese professional tennis player. She has been ranked No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) and is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles. She is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion, and is the reigning champion at the US Open and the Australian Open. Her seven titles on the WTA Tour also include two at the Premier Mandatory level. At the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open, Osaka won her first two Grand Slam singles titles in back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments, and is the first player to achieve this feat since Jennifer Capriati in 2001. She also became the first woman to win successive Grand Slam singles titles since Serena Williams in 2015.
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
October 16, 1997 (age 23)
Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan
1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Wim Fissette (2020–)
No. 1 (January 28, 2019)
No. 2 (February 22, 2021)
Grand Slam Singles results
Born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Osaka has lived and trained in the United States since age three. She came to prominence at age 16 when she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur in her WTA Tour debut at the 2014 Stanford Classic. Two years later, she reached her first WTA final at the 2016 Pan Pacific Open in Japan to enter the top 50 of the WTA rankings. Osaka made her breakthrough into the upper echelon of women's tennis in 2018 when she won her first WTA title at the Indian Wells Open. Later in the year, she defeated 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams in the final of the US Open to become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title. Since 2018, she has won a Grand Slam singles title in four consecutive years.
Osaka is one of the world's most marketable athletes, having been ranked eighth among all athletes in endorsement income in 2020. She was also the highest-earning female athlete of all time by annual income that year. Osaka has gained significant recognition as an activist, having showcased support for the Black Lives Matter movement in conjunction with her matches. She was named one of the 2020 Sports Illustrated Sportspersons of the Year for her activism largely as part of her US Open championship run, and was also included on Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in both 2019 and 2020. Moreover, she was the 2021 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year. On the court, Osaka has an aggressive playing style with a powerful serve that can reach 201 kilometres per hour (125 mph).
Early life and background
Naomi Osaka was born on October 16, 1997, in Chūō-ku, Osaka in Japan to Tamaki Osaka and Leonard François.Her mother is from Hokkaido, Japan, and her father is from Jacmel, Haiti. She has an older sister named Mari who is a former professional tennis player. The two girls were given their mother's family name for practical reasons when the family lived in Japan. Osaka's parents met when her father was visiting Hokkaido while he was a college student in New York.
When Osaka was three years old, her family moved from Japan to Valley Stream, New York on Long Island to live with her father's parents. Her father was inspired to teach his daughters how to play tennis by watching the Williams sisters compete at the 1999 French Open. Having little experience as a tennis player himself, he sought to emulate how Richard Williams trained his daughters to become two of the best players in the world, despite having never played the sport. François remarked that "the blueprint was already there. I just had to follow it," with regard to the detailed plan Richard had developed for his daughters. He began coaching Naomi and Mari once they settled in the United States. In 2006, her family moved to Florida when she was eight or nine years old so that they would have better opportunities to train. She practiced on the Pembroke Pines public courts. When she was 15 years old, she began working with Patrick Tauma at the ISP Academy. In 2014, she moved to the Harold Solomon Tennis Academy.She later trained at the ProWorld Tennis Academy.
Although Osaka was raised in the United States, her parents decided that their daughters would represent Japan. They said, "We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age. She was born in Osaka and was brought up in a household of Japanese and Haitian culture. Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese so that was our only rationale. It was never a financially motivated decision nor were we ever swayed either way by any national federation.This decision may have also been motivated by a lack of interest from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) when she was still a young player.The USTA later offered her the opportunity to train at their national training center in Boca Raton when she was 16 years old, but she declined.
Osaka had a shy, reserved personality in her early years on the WTA Tour.Her former coach Sascha Bajin was initially confused by her personality, saying, "I thought she was a little bit more of a diva because she didn't talk much. She doesn't really look at someone's eyes, but that's just because she was always so shy ... Back then I didn't know for what reason.Osaka is also very frank and is regarded as having a dry sense of humor. During her 2018 Indian Wells Open victory speech, she began by saying "Um, hello ... I'm Naom ... oh never mind" and later noted, "This is probably going to be the worst acceptance speech of all time" after being worried about forgetting whom to thank, and appearing to nearly forget to thank her opponent, Daria Kasatkina as well as one of her sponsors, Yonex.
Osaka has since made efforts to overcome her shyness while also becoming a leading activist in professional tennis. Her decision to withdraw from the 2020 Cincinnati Open in New York to raise awareness for the police shooting of Jacob Blake led the tournament to postpone all Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women's Tennis Association (WTA) matches for a day in support of her cause.At the 2020 US Open beginning the following week, each mask she wore as she walked onto the court (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) prominently displayed the name of an African American who had been killed in the preceding few years, the majority in the year before the tournament, and the majority killed by police. She highlighted Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice; and was praised directly by the parents of Martin and Arbery.Prior to these acts of activism, Osaka had also travelled to Minnesota to attend the protests of the murder of George Floyd. She outlined her personal reasons for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and protesting against police brutality in an op-ed in Esquire magazine.
Osaka was named a 2020 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year for her activism alongside the year's other prominent activist sports champions LeBron James, Breanna Stewart, and Patrick Mahomes, as well as medical worker Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.She was also honored as one of the Time 100 most influential people in the world in 2020 for her activism, having also been named to the list in 2019 for representing professional tennis well as an excellent role model and a major champion.
Osaka has been featured as the main character in a manga series published by Kodansha in Nakayoshi, a leading Japanese shojo magazine. The series is being drawn by Futago Kamikita and was made with the help of Osaka's sister Mari. The first edition appeared in the February 2021 issue of the magazine, which was released in December 2020.
Osaka is in a relationship with American rapper Cordae.
In 2021, Osaka became a co-owner of the North Carolina Courage in the National Women's Soccer League, the top level of the women's sport in the U.S.
Osaka has said, "My dad's Haitian, so I grew up in a Haitian household in New York. I lived with my grandma. And my mom's Japanese and I grew up with the Japanese culture too, and if you're saying American, I guess because I lived in America, I also have that too." Her Haitian grandparents only spoke to her in Creole because they did not know English, while her mother conversed with her in Japanese. Osaka elected for Japanese citizenship over American in 2019, with an eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She said, "I always represent Japan when I play." Osaka can understand Japanese, but is not very confident speaking the language. She has said, "I can understand way more Japanese than I can speak.At press conferences, Osaka can take questions in Japanese but typically will answer them in English.
Osaka's background is particularly unusual given that she represents Japan, a country that perceives itself as being very racially homogeneous. In Japan, she is referred to as a hāfu, meaning that she is half-Japanese.Her Japanese grandparents did not initially accept her parents' relationship. This led to her parents' relocating from Hokkaido to the city of Osaka, where she and her sister were born. As a result, her mother had no contact with her family for nearly 15 years and Osaka did not get the chance to return to Japan until she was 11 years old, nor did her grandparents initially support her parents for building their daughters' lives around tennis.However, they later began to support Osaka as a tennis player following her unexpected upset of Sam Stosur in her WTA Tour debut.They were also proud of her in particular for winning the 2018 US Open.
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