If you’re a lover of tennis, surely you’re well aware of the exceptional skill that Japanese professional tennis player Naomi Osaka displays on the court! Starting practice when she was just three years old, today, at 24 years old (As of 2022), Osaka has become a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and been ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association which makes her the first Asian player to hold a top ranking in singles.
Inspired by professional tennis players, Venus and Serena Williams, Naomi’s father began training his two daughters at a very young age in the sport. The Osaka family relocated to Florida when Naomi was just eight years old, where she and her sister would have better opportunities to train. Naomi spent her daytime hours practicing tennis on the Pembroke Pines public courts in Florida, and was homeschooled at night.
By the time she was 14 years old, Naomi played her first qualifying match at the ITF Women’s Circuit, a professional tennis tournament, and began training at the ISP Academy with professional tennis coach Patrick Tauma. In 2013, the young tennis player competed professionally at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, and shortly after, qualified for her first WTA Tour draw at the 2014 Stanford Classic.
Naomi’s victories as a teenager ranked her into the top 250 of that season. Around the same time, Osaka reached her two highest level ITF finals at the Kangaroo Cup in Japan and the Surbiton Trophy in the UK. This led to her qualifying to enter at the last two Grand Slam singles events in 2015: the Wimbledon and the US Open. Naomi finished her 2015 season ranking No. 144 in the world.
The 2016 season brought Naomi more recognition, as she made it to the top 50 of the WTA rankings for the first time in her career, and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year. At the 2019 Australia Open, Osaka became the second woman to win consecutive major singles titles after Serena Williams in 2015, the first player to follow up her first Grand Slam singles title with another at the next event since Jennifer Capriati in 2001, and lastly, the first Asian player to be ranked No. 1 in the world in singles. Triumphantly, Osaka finished off the 2019 season as No. 3 in the world.
With a successful sports career, Naomi is known as “one of the most marketable athletes in the world.” In 2020, she became the 8th highest-paid athlete, earning $34 million in endorsements. In addition to tennis, Naomi is quite the businesswoman, as she has recently established her own sports agency, Evolve, with her agent Stuart Duguid in 2022. Fellow professional tennis player, Nick Kyrgios, is signed as her very first client. In 2021, she launched her own skincare line called KINLÒ that includes a range of products with natural ingredients used to nourish and protect melanated skin tones from the sun. She also uses KINLÒ to educate others on the how to protect their skin from damaging sun rays and the potential health risks.
The young professional sportswoman has also been recognized for her activism in 2020, as she withdrew from the Cincinnati Open to raise awareness for the police shooting of Jacob Blake. She only participated once the tournament postponed all matches for the day to support her course. Within the same year, she played each game with a different mask that had the name of every African-American who has been killed by police in the preceding years imprinted on it. She also flew out to Minnesota to participate in the Black Lives Matter protests for the murder of George Floyd.
In 2020, Naomi was named Sportswoman of the Year by Sports Illustrated and listed as Time’s top 100 most influential people in the world.