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Thu, 10.16.1997

Naomi Osaka, Tennis Player born

Naomi Osaka

*Naomi Osaka was born on this date in 1997.  She is a Black Japanese professional tennis player.  She was born 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, a professional tennis player. The two girls were given their mother's maiden name due to the Japanese Family Registration Law.  

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. Osaka's father was inspired to teach his daughters how to play tennis by watching Serena and Venus Williams compete at the 1999 French Open. "The blueprint was already there. I just had to follow it," about the detailed plan Richard Williams had developed for his daughters. He began coaching Naomi and Mari once they settled in the United States.  

In 2006, Osaka's family moved to Florida when Naomi was eight or nine years old to have better training opportunities. Naomi practiced on the Pembroke Pines public courts.  When she was 15, 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 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. 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."  

Osaka 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 has won five WTA Tour titles, including two at both the Grand Slam and Premier Mandatory levels. Osaka won her first two Grand Slam singles titles in back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open and is the first player to achieve this feat since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.  Osaka is one of the most marketable athletes in the world. She was the highest-earning female athlete by annual income in 2020 and ranked 29th among all athletes. On the court, Osaka has an aggressive playing style, with a powerful serve reaching 125 miles per hour (200 km/h).  

She joined in Black Lives Matter protests over the summer of 2020, including attending protests in Minnesota following George Floyd's death; penning an op-ed in Esquire magazine; indicating she was going to sit out her semi-final match at the Western & Southern Open; and wearing masks with the names of those who had died in police shootings.  In 2020, Osaka is in a relationship with American rapper Cordae.

To become a Professional Athlete



Image: People Magazine

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