Naomi Osaka was this year’s torchbearer at the Olympic Games and made a shock exit yesterday in round three of the Games. Here’s what you need to know about the World #1.
Osaka was born in Japan, but raised predominantly in the U.S. by her Japanese mother and Haitian father. By 16 years of age, she had turned into a professional tennis player and has continued to successfully climb the ranks ever since.
Osaka has one of the best serves in the world and has made a name for herself with an aggressive playing style. Some of her career highlights include:
Previously held the world number one ranking (currently ranked number two)
Osaka is the third person in history to have won all four of her first grand slam finals — winning the U.S. Open and Australian Open twice
She is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles
Despite her shy personality, Osaka has become a leading activist in the sport of tennis, using her platform (and game time) as an opportunity to bring awareness to social issues. In 2020 throughout the U.S. Open, Osaka wore face masks with the names of Black victims of racial injustice when walking out onto the court prior. She was also present at Black Lives Matter protests and vocally supportive of the movement. In recognition of her activism and athletic career, she received awards including Sports Illustrated Sportspersons of the Year, appearing on Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in both 2019 and 2020, and the 2021 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year.
Earlier this year during the French Open, Osaka announced that she would not participate in press conferences, citing effects on her mental health. Osaka criticised press conferences as “kicking a person while they’re down” after a loss. She was fined $15,000 for her refusal to “honour her contractual media obligations”. Her decision to do this was divisive and gained a lot of media attention. Osaka then announced she would not be participating in the Wimbledon Championships but would compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She resumed press conferences at the Olympics, however was knocked out of the Games in the third round.
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