Naomi Osaka, born on October 16, 1997, is a professional tennis player from Japan who has won four Grand Slam singles titles, including two U.S. Open wins and two Australian Open titles. She became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles championship after defeating her hero Serena Williams in the finals of the U.S. Open in 2018. She was born in Japan and raised in the U.S. Forbes has labeled her the highest-paid female athlete of all time for the past two years. Today, we honor this outstanding athlete and her accomplishments.
October 16, 1997
In a relationship
Naomi Osaka was born in Osaka, Japan, to Leonard François and Tamaki Osaka. After observing Richard Williams’ success with his daughters Serena and Venus, her father was encouraged to teach her and her older sister Mari tennis despite their inadequate experience. He adopted Richard Williams’ “blueprint” for raising his two girls from an early age, even moving the household to Florida in 2006 to give them a better chance.
Osaka, who never participated in the International Tennis Federation (I.T.F.) Junior Circuit before making her I.T.F. Women’s Circuit debut on her 14th birthday in October 2011, has lost four times in the I.T.F. finals. She won her first match in the W.T.A. (Women’s Tennis Association) main draw at the 2014 Stanford Classic against previous U.S. Open Champion Samantha Stosur after turning professional in September 2014. Despite failing to win another W.T.A. main draw match in 2015, she rose in the rankings and had her professional debut at the 2016 Pan Pacific Open, reaching her maiden W.T.A. final at the age of 18. Despite losing in the final against Caroline Wozniacki, she moved into the top 50 of the W.T.A. rankings and was named W.T.A. Newcomer of the Year. In the first round of the Miami Open in March 2018, she faced and defeated her childhood idol, Serena Williams. Osaka beat Williams in the final of the U.S. Open later that year to earn her first Grand Slam championship and became the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam singles title. After defeating Petra Kvitová in the Australian Open on January 28, 2019, Osaka became the first Asian player to become world number one. Despite subpar results in the Brisbane International and the Australian Open before the COVID-19 epidemic, Osaka made it to the finals of the Cincinnati Open and the U.S. Open after the tour resumed in 2020. Victoria Azarenka was her opponent both times, and while she lost in the finals of the Cincinnati Open due to a hamstring injury, she was able to win her second U.S. Open title in three years. She won her second Australian Open title and fourth Grand Slam in four years in 2021, defeating Serena Williams in the semifinals and Jennifer Brady in the final. After dropping out from the 2021 French Open and skipping the Wimbledon Championships, she competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
While Osaka is a shy person, she is well-known for her advocacy and has spoken out against racism, police brutality, and hate crimes in the past. In 2020, she pulled out from the Cincinnati Open to protest the police death of Jacob Blake, and during the U.S. Open, she wore masks with the names of African-Americans who had been killed. She is dating American rapper Y.B.N. Cordae, whom she met in person for the first time at a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game after speaking on the phone. Cordae, who knew nothing about tennis before meeting Osaka except the names of the two Williams sisters, now regularly visits her matches to cheer her on.
She competes in her first qualifying match on her 14th birthday.
Osaka goes professional, just before turning 16 years old.
She beats Williams in the final of the U.S. Open to win her first Grand Slam championship and become the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam singles title.
On January 28, 2019, after defeating Petra Kvitová in the Australian Open, Osaka becomes the first Asian player to achieve global number one.
Why We Love Naomi Osaka
She is an advocate for mental health and racial justice
Naomi Osaka is a vocal supporter of racial justice and mental health issues. She withdrew from the 2020 Cincinnati Open after hearing about police violence against black people, bringing awareness to Jacob Blake, a black man who was a victim of police brutality. In the same year, Osaka traveled to Minneapolis to donate and protest the police officer's death of George Floyd. She wore several masks with the names of victims of police brutality during the 2020 U.S. Open to speak out against racial injustices.
She likes to have fun
People who take on such a significant role in the public eye are prone to be engrossed in the career that propels them into the spotlight. Osaka can be seen having fun and living a complete life outside of her career and is a good role model for young professionals. It not only highlights that she is human, but it also serves as a reminder to those who look up to her to live complete and balanced lives as well.
She can’t be put in a box
The media and the general public may be inclined to categorize Osaka since she is both a woman and an athlete, but the fact that she embodies so many things is fantastic. People want to be seen in the media, and Osaka’s ability to identify with so many things allows more people to feel represented — not just because of her ethnic background, but also because of her love of fashion, her seemingly healthy relationship with food and her body, her activism as a young person of color, and her love of sports and pop culture.
5 Surprising Facts
She gave up her U.S. citizenship
She had dual citizenship, but she chose to preserve her Japanese citizenship because Japanese law requires her to choose only one at the age of 22.
She loves playing video games
Aside from tennis, Osaka enjoys playing video games, with her favorite being “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
She’s a meme lord
During an interview, Osaka used a meme to describe herself when asked how she felt about a game.
She likes watching anime
Osaka named “Code Geass” and “Death Note” as two of her top five favorite anime in an Instagram fan Q&A session.
She has her own Netflix series
Released on July 16, 2021, Osaka now has her own Netflix series, thanks to her numerous accomplishments.
Naomi Osaka FAQs
Does Naomi Osaka Speak Japanese?
Osaka is fluent in three languages: English, Japanese, and Haitian Creole, and she rates herself as fluent in each. English is her most comfortable language.
What does Osaka’s sister do?
Mari Osaka is a former tennis player and fashion designer from Japan.
Why does Noami Osaka use her mother's surname?
Osaka’s mother, Tamaki, said to “The New York Times” in 2018 that Osaka and her sister, Mari, used their mother’s last name, Osaka, rather than their father’s, François, so that staying in Japan and enrolling in school or renting flats would be easier.
Naomi Osaka’s birthday dates