Naomi Osaka's Biography
Naomi Osaka, a Japanese tennis player, burst onto the world sports scene like a bright comet, pushing off the pedestal Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Daria Kasatkina, and other famous athletes. In 2019, she became the first Asian woman to earn the title of the world's best racket and win two consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.
Childhood and Youth
Naomi was born in October 1997 in Osaka, in an international family that was atypical for Japan. She owes her exotic looks and dark skin tone to her father, Haitian Leonard Francois, whom her mother, native Japanese Tamaki, met during her college years.
The girl's parents disapproved of her chosen partner, which forced the young family to move to Osaka, far away from their angry relatives. There, their daughters were born (Naomi has an older sister Mari), whom their father planned to turn into outstanding tennis players.
Inspired by the success of the Williams sisters (especially their astronomical salaries), Francois moved the family to New York and then to Florida, home to the best tennis schools in the United States. Naomi was only three years old when she first held a racket. Mari also dedicated her life to professional tennis, even though she did not achieve the same success as her younger sister.
To avoid signing long-term contracts with coaches, which required large financial investments, Francois moved the girls from one school to another. When Naomi and Mari began showing promising results, he started looking for sponsors who could cover some of the costs.
Despite their age difference, Naomi overtook her older sister in results and soon made a name for herself as a promising athlete. The coaches wisely capitalized on her strong arms and powerful serve, and even more experienced colleagues could envy the young tennis player's endurance.
Thanks to her tall stature, strong physique, and excellent technique, 14-year-old Naomi debuted in ITF tournament matches, skipping the junior stage. By June 2013, the young athlete reached the finals of the circuit tournaments, attracting the attention of the wide sports public. In 2014, the Japanese player reached the final of an international tournament in Mexico, and in the summer of the same year, she passed the professional qualification in Stanford and successfully performed in the main grid of the WTA tournament, defeating the former US champion Samantha Stosur.
In the summer of 2015, Naomi last competed in the ITF tournament and fully switched to WTA competitions, aiming to reach the finals of the Grand Slam series. Debuting at the Australian Open 2016, she managed to reach the third round in the main grid, repeated this result at the French Open, and again reached the third round at the US Open. By the end of 2016, the Japanese athlete received the "Newcomer of the Year" award and entered the top 50 best tennis players in the world according to WTA.
2017 was pretty steady for Naomi – at the Wimbledon tournament she again reached the third round, successfully debuted in the Federation Cup as part of the Japanese team, defeated the world's sixth racket Angelique Kerber at the US Open, and defeated Venus Williams in Hong Kong.
2018 was a real breakthrough in the young athlete's career. She defeated such renowned opponents as Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, and Daria Kasatkina and became the champion of the American Grand Slam tournament, defeating her childhood idol, Serena Williams. Thanks to this achievement, Naomi confidently moved to the seventh place in the world ranking of the best tennis players and became the first representative of Japan to win a Grand Slam tournament.
The final of the Australian Open 2019 turned out to be even more spectacular and tense, where our heroine met Petra Kvitova. The result of the confrontation between the 21-year-old US Open debutant, who had burst into the Grand Slam elite a few months earlier, and the experienced Czech athlete with a long list of bright victories, was not even predicted by professional bookmakers. Moreover, two prestigious titles were at stake, and the winner automatically became the world's top racket.
In a tough match, Naomi snatched victory from her opponent, outplaying her in the last two games. Becoming the Grand Slam tournament champion for the second time in a row, Osaka made history as the first Asian athlete to top the world ranking.
Just two weeks after her triumphant victory at the Australian Open, Naomi announced the termination of her contract with Sascha Bajin, the best coach of 2018 in the WTA ranking. Their collaboration lasted about a year, and many believe that the girl owes a lot of her recent achievements to the famed German tennis player, former coach and sparring partner of Serena Williams.
In response to press questions, Naomi evasively answered that their parting was due to some disagreements and definitely not money. Sascha, in turn, wished his former protégé further success and promised to write a book about their joint work. Another hot topic, widely discussed in the press, is the citizenship of the world's first racket. The athlete had two passports – Japanese and American, but according to Japanese laws, after 22 years, residents of the country are not allowed to have dual citizenship. As a result, in 2019, Naomi renounced her US citizenship.
Osaka's sports career has provided the girl with numerous advertising contracts, the amounts of which are measured in figures with many zeros: the girl is the face of the cosmetic brand Shiseido, collaborates with Citizen, Nissan, All Nippon Airways, Procter & Gamble, and Adidas. Largely thanks to the contracts, she received the status of the highest-paid female athlete of the year in 2019.
In 2018, Osaka participated in a tournament in Tokyo – in this competition, the tennis player reached the final, but lost with a score of 4-6, 4-6. The WTA Finals also ended unsuccessfully for her – Naomi failed in three matches and took fifth place in the singles ranking. However, in early 2019 in Brisbane, the athlete managed to reach the semi-finals, and later Osaka went on to fight for the title of the world's first racket against Czech athlete Petra Kvitova. Naomi managed to win and reach the top of the world singles ranking.
In 2020, Naomi Osaka had to pause her competitive activity due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in September of the same year, she participated in the US Open and defeated Victoria Azarenka, becoming the first in a quarter of a century to win the tournament after losing a set.
On the eve of the Australian Open 2021, Naomi reached the semi-finals at the Gippsland Trophy. But then she refused to continue the fight for the championship crown, giving way to Belgian tennis player Elise Mertens in the final. By April 2022, Naomi was again at the center of the tennis world. For the third time in her career and the first time since 2019, she ascended to the top of the WTA 1000 tournament in Miami. There, under the palm trees and ocean breeze, she met her opponent – the world's second racket, Iga Świątek. The battle was tense, but the outcome was not in favor of Naomi - 4-6 0-6.
This match was her first battle in WTA tournaments since her victory at the previous Australian Open last year. After this tournament in 2022, Naomi managed to win only two matches.
In the fall of 2022, the tennis player put her career on hold due to a joyful event – she was expecting a baby.
Personal Life of Naomi Osaka
In 2021, it was revealed that Naomi is dating rapper Cordae.
On July 9, 2023, the couple welcomed a daughter Shai. The athlete greeted the girl with a touching post on social media:
Naomi considers Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori a close friend.
Naomi is an introvert who prefers quiet family evenings to loud parties, loves Pokémon, and traditional Japanese cuisine.
The athlete protested after the killing of George Floyd and took to the court wearing a mask with the name of the boy shot by police, Tamir Rice, underlining her rejection of any form of racism.
I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend and a girlfriend. I'm Asian, I'm Black and I'm female. I'm as normal a 22-year-old as anyone, except I happen to be good at tennis. I've accepted myself as just me: Naomi Osaka.
Naomi Osaka Now
Since becoming a mother, Naomi didn't give up her career - she planned to return to the court in 2024.
Press Ctrl+Enter If you find a mistake