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|Naomi Osaka is a professional tennis player who represents Japan. She is the reigning champion in women's singles at the Australian Open. Osaka is formerly ranked No. 1 and currently ranked No. 4 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). She is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles. She has won seven titles and reached ten finals on the WTA Tour.
At the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open, Osaka won her first two Grand Slam singles titles in back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments, and is the first player to achieve this feat since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.
Since 2018, she has won a Grand Slam singles title in four consecutive years.
Born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Osaka has lived in the United States since she was three years old. She came to prominence at the age of sixteen when she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur in her WTA Tour debut at the 2014 Stanford Classic. Two years later, she reached her first WTA final at the 2016 Pan Pacific Open in Japan to enter the top 50 of the WTA rankings. Osaka made her breakthrough into the upper echelon of women's tennis in 2018, when she won her first WTA title at the Indian Wells Open. In September of 2018, she won the US Open, defeating 23-time major champion Serena Williams in the final to become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. She won her second Grand Slam title at the 2019 Australian Open.
Osaka is known for her multi-ethnic background and her shy, candid personality. With her diverse background and status as a Grand Slam singles champion, she is one of the most marketable women athletes in the world, ranking second in endorsement income in 2019 behind only Serena Williams. On the court, Osaka has an aggressive playing style with a powerful serve that can reach 125 miles per hour (200 km/h).
Naomi was born 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 who is also a professional tennis player. The two girls were given their mother's maiden name for practical reasons when the family lived in Japan. 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 the Williams sisters compete at the 1999 French Open. Having little experience as a tennis player himself, he sought to emulate how Richard Williams trained his daughters to become two of the best players in the world, despite having never played the sport. François remarked that, "The blueprint was already there. I just had to follow it", with regard to the detailed plan Richard 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 so that they would have better opportunities to train. Naomi practiced on the Pembroke Pines public courts. When she was 15 years old, 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 that 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. Quite simply, 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." This decision may have also been motivated by a lack of interest from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) when Naomi was still a young player. The USTA later offered Naomi the opportunity to train at their national training center in Boca Raton when she was 16 years old, but she declined.
Osaka never competed on the ITF Junior Circuit, the premier international junior tour, and only played in a small number of junior tournaments at any age level. She instead skipped to the ITF Women's Circuit and played her first qualifying match in October 2011 on her 14th birthday. She then made her professional main draw debut in doubles at her next tournament in March with her sister Mari. Meanwhile, she did not qualify for her first singles main draw until July in her seventh such attempt. Her best result of the 2012 season came at the ITF $10K event in Amelia Island, where she lost to her sister in the semifinals. Osaka has never won a title at the ITF level, only managing to finish runner-up on four occasions. Her first two finals came at the $25K level, one of which was in June 2013 in El Paso, Texas. The other was in March 2014 in Irapuato, Mexico and included a victory over her sister.
In September 2013, Osaka turned professional shortly before turning 16 years old. She entered her first two qualifying draws on the WTA Tour that same month at the Challenge Bell in Québec and the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. The latter event was her first opportunity to compete professionally in Japan. The following summer, Osaka qualified for her first WTA main draw at the 2014 Stanford Classic. In her tour level debut, she upset world No. 19 Samantha Stosur in a tight match where she saved a match point in the second set tiebreak and came back from a 5–3 deficit in the third set. She was still just 16 years old and ranked No. 406 at the time. Osaka also won a match as a wild card at the Japan Women's Open, her only other WTA main draw of the year. These victories helped her progress into the top 250 of the WTA rankings before the end of the season.
Despite not winning another WTA main draw singles match in 2015, Osaka continued to climb up the rankings. She reached her two highest level ITF finals, the first at the $75K Kangaroo Cup in Japan and the second at the $50K Surbiton Trophy in the United Kingdom. Following these runner-up results, Osaka was ranked high enough to enter qualifying at the last two Grand Slam singles events of the year, Wimbledon and the US Open. She won her first match at the US Open, but was unable to qualify for either main draw. Nonetheless, Osaka had a strong finish to the year. In October during the WTA Finals, she won the Rising Stars Invitational four-player exhibition tournament, defeating heavy favorite and world No. 35 Caroline Garcia in the final. Continuing to play in November, Osaka then reached the biggest final of her career at the WTA 125K Hua Hin Championships in Thailand. After a semifinal at a $75K event in Japan, she finished the year ranked No. 144.
Osaka began the 2016 season playing three tournaments in Australia. Her results during this stretch were good enough to bring her near the top 100, which allowed her to play in WTA Tour-level events all year. Most notably, she qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open and made it to the third round. In particular, she upset No. 21 Elina Svitolina in straight sets in the second round before losing to No. 16 Victoria Azarenka. Back in the United States, Osaka received a wild card into the Miami Open, her first Premier Mandatory main draw. During the event, she won two matches including a victory over No. 18 Sara Errani. With this success, she progressed into the top 100 of the WTA rankings for the first time.
In the clay court events leading up the French Open, Osaka needed to qualify for every event she entered. She only managed to do so at a single event, the Charleston Open, where she lost her only match in the main draw. Nonetheless, Osaka was ranked high enough to be directly accepted into the main draw of the French Open. In her debut at the tournament, she recorded her only two clay court match wins of the season. She also won the first set against No. 6 Simona Halep, but ultimately lost the match. She then did not play the grass court season after suffering an injury shortly after the French Open.
Osaka returned to tennis in the middle of July. At the US Open in August, she reached the third round at a Grand Slam event for the third time this year. She upset No. 30 CoCo Vandeweghe in the first round before losing to No. 9 Madison Keys in three sets. During her match against Keys, she had a 5–1 lead in the third set before ultimately losing in a tiebreak. After the tournament, Osaka began the Asian hard court season with two tournaments in Tokyo, first losing in the second round at the Japan Women's Open. Having already reached her first two career WTA quarterfinals earlier in the year, she then made her breakthrough as a wild card at the Premier level Pan Pacific Open. She upset No. 12 Dominika Cibulková and No. 20 Svitolina on the road to making her first WTA final at the age of 18. At the time, Cibulkova was the highest ranked player she ever defeated. Additionally, she was the first Japanese player to contest the final at the event since Kimiko Date in 1995. Osaka ultimately finished runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki. Nonetheless, she entered the top 50 of the WTA rankings for the first time. At the end of the season, she was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
After her huge improvement the previous year, Osaka was unable to set a new career high ranking in 2017. Nonetheless, she maintained a steady ranking throughout the season, rising no higher than No. 44 while falling no lower than No. 68, her year-end ranking. She did not win more than two main draw matches at any event all year.
Osaka's best tournament result of the season came at the Canadian Open, where she reached the round of sixteen as a qualifier. During the event, she upset No. 16 Anastasija Sevastova before needing to retire against world No. 1 Karolína Plíšková due to an abdominal injury. She had won the second set against Plíšková. Her next best results of the year came at the last two Grand Slam events of the season, where she made it to the third round at each of Wimbledon and the US Open. She had a strong debut at Wimbledon, upsetting No. 23 Barbora Strýcová before losing to No. 11 Venus Williams. Her US Open was then highlighted by her first round win against defending champion and No. 6 Angelique Kerber, the first top ten victory of Osaka's career. However, her run was ended by veteran qualifier Kaia Kanepi. This was the second consecutive year she lost in the third round of the US Open after having at least a one-break lead in the third set.
Osaka in particular struggled playing on clay courts. After winning her first two matches at the Charleston Open, she did not win another main draw match on clay the remainder of the season. Osaka did well in her first full grass court season on the WTA Tour, going 4–4 behind her performance at Wimbledon. Her biggest wins of the year all came on hard court. In addition to her results at the Canadian Open and the US Open, she also recorded a second top ten victory over No. 5 Venus Williams at the Hong Kong Open, her last tournament of the year.
In 2018, following her lack of improvement in 2017, Osaka hired Sascha Bajin to be her coach in the offseason. In their second tournament together, Osaka produced her career best result at a Grand Slam event. At the Australian Open, she reached the fourth round after defeating two top twenty players in Elena Vesnina and hometown favorite Ashleigh Barty, ultimately losing to world No. 1 Simona Halep. This result helped her return to the top 50 within the next month.
At the Indian Wells Open, Osaka had the next big breakthrough of her career. Having never won a professional title or made it past the third round at a Premier Mandatory event, she won the tournament convincingly, only dropping one set in the middle round of the tournament. In the quarterfinals and semifinals, she defeated two top five opponents in Karolína Plíšková and Halep, the latter of which was her first victory over a current world No. 1 player. She then closed out the tournament with a win in the final over fellow up-and-coming player Daria Kasatkina, making her the youngest champion at the event in ten years. With her first title, she surged past her previous career high ranking to No. 22 in the world. Osaka played the following week as well at the Miami Open and extended her win streak by one additional match in her first ever meeting against her childhood idol Serena Williams, who was competing in just her second tournament back from maternity leave.
After her success in the early months of the season, Osaka had a relatively quiet middle of the year. She reached the third round at both the French Open and Wimbledon, matching her best performance at each tournament. The closest she came to winning another tournament was on grass at the Nottingham Open, where she lost to top seed Barty in the semifinals. Osaka did not have another breakthrough result until the US Open, where she won her second title of the year. Like at Indian Wells, she only dropped one set in the middle round of the event, this time to No. 20 Aryna Sabalenka. In the three early rounds, she only lost a total of seven games and notably recorded a double bagel victory against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Osaka was drawn against Madison Keys in the semifinals, and was able to avenge her tough loss from the 2016 US Open to advance to the final. In the final, she defeated Serena Williams for the second time in 2018 to win her first major title. The match was marred by an on-court dispute between Williams and the umpire highlighted by Williams receiving a game penalty and boos from the crowd both during the match and the award ceremony. Osaka later said that the win was "a little bit bittersweet" and "it wasn't necessarily the happiest memory." Nonetheless, she became the first Japanese woman to contest a Grand Slam singles final and the first Japanese Grand Slam singles champion.
Now ranked in the top ten, Osaka extended her win streak to ten matches by reaching the final at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo for the second time in her career. Plíšková was able to end her win streak in the final. Osaka then reached the semifinals at the Premier Mandatory China Open. With her third consecutive deep run, she rose to a career best ranking of world No. 4, matching the record of Kimiko Date and Kei Nishikori for the highest ranking held by a Japanese player in history. Osaka closed out the year by participating at the WTA Finals, where she was grouped with Sloane Stephens, Angelique Kerber, and Kiki Bertens. She lost all three of her round robin matches, notably retiring against Bertens due to a hamstring injury to end her season. Osaka finished the year as the WTA Tour leader in prize money, having earned almost $6.4 million.
In 2019, Osaka entered the Australian Open as the fourth seed and also one of eleven players in contention for the world No. 1 ranking. She made it to the final against Petra Kvitová, having beaten Hsieh Su-wei in the third round despite being one set, 2–4 and 0–40 down at one point. Anastasija Sevastova also won the first set against her in the fourth round, while No. 8 Karolína Plíšková pushed her to three sets in the semifinals. After Osaka won the first set in the final, Kvitová saved three championship break points before breaking Osaka in back-to-back service games to win the second set. Nonetheless, Osaka recovered to win the championship. She was the first woman to win consecutive Grand Slam singles titles since Serena Williams in 2015, and was the first player to follow up her first Grand Slam singles title with another at the next such event since Jennifer Capriati in 2001. She also became the first Asian player to be ranked No. 1 in the world in singles.Despite this title, she parted ways with her coach Sascha Bajin following the tournament.
Osaka failed to defend her title at Indian Wells, being defeated by Belinda Bencic in the fourth round. She suffered an early loss to Hsieh Su-wei at the 2019 Miami Open before reaching her first clay court semifinal at the Stuttgart Open, where she withdrew before the match due to an abdominal injury. At the Madrid Open, she reached the quarter-final before losing to Bencic. She then had to withdraw from her Italian Open quarter-final match against Kiki Bertens due to a right hand injury. Osaka struggled early on in the French Open, losing the first set of her opening round against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová without winning a game. She was able to come back and win the match in three sets, progressing to yet another difficult three-sets win over Victoria Azarenka. In the third round, Osaka was upset by Kateřina Siniaková in straight sets.
Entering the grass court season, Osaka was looking to return to form. However, she was defeated in the second round of Birmingham by Yulia Putintseva. With the loss, Osaka fell to world No. 2 after French Open champion Ashleigh Barty won the Birmingham title. Osaka was seeded second for Wimbledon but lost in the first round, once again to Yulia Putintseva.
At the beginning of August, Osaka made a post on Twitter discussing her struggles with the sport since the Australian Open. She played her first tournament of the North American hard court swing at the Rogers Cup, seeded second. She defeated qualifiers Tatjana Maria and Iga Świątek to reach the quarterfinals, where she was defeated by Serena Williams in their third career meeting. Despite this, Osaka returned to the world number one spot at the end of the tournament due to Ashleigh Barty's early loss. At Cincinnati Open she pulled out a match against Sofia Kenin because of knee injury.
These performances helped her regain the No. 1 ranking so that she had the top seed at the US Open. Nonetheless, her title defense came to an end in the fourth round against Belinda Bencic, who defeated her for the third time during the year. She then fell to No. 4 in the world. Following the tournament, Osaka went back to having her father as her coach. This change had an immediate impact, as Osaka won her next two tournaments. First, she won the Premier 5 Pan Pacific Open in her hometown of Osaka, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final. Two weeks later, she won the Premier Mandatory China Open. During the tournament, she defeated reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in the quarterfinals and world No. 1 and reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty in the final, both in three sets after losing the first. This was Andreescu's first loss since March. These results brought her to No. 3 in the world. At the end of the season, Osaka qualified for the WTA Finals for the second consecutive year. However, after defeating Petra Kvitová in her first match, she withdrew due to injury.
Osaka made her Fed Cup debut for Japan in 2017, while the team was competing in the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I. Japan won all nine of their rubbers to advance out of their round robin pool. Although Osaka won her singles match in the play-off against Kazakhstan, the team lost their other two matches and was not able to advance. The following year with Osaka absent, Japan was able to defeat Kazakhstan in the same group to advance to the 2018 World Group II Play-offs. In this stage, they hosted Great Britain in a usual five rubber tie. At this point, Osaka returned to the team and won her opening match against Heather Watson. After she lost her next rubber to Johanna Konta, Kurumi Nara was also able to defeat Watson to set up a decisive doubles match. Japan won that final rubber to earn promotion to World Group II in 2019.
Osaka made her Hopman Cup debut in 2018 with Yūichi Sugita. Japan was making their first appearance at the exhibition tournament since 2001. They were grouped with Switzerland, the United States, and Russia, and lost all three of their ties. Osaka's only match win came in singles against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She also had a big highlight in the mixed doubles match against Switzerland when she served an ace past Roger Federer.
Osaka is an aggressive baseline player. She has excellent raw power, especially on her forehand and her serve. Osaka could hit 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) forehands at the age of sixteen, and her serve has been clocked at up to 125 miles per hour (200 km/h), making her one of the ten fastest servers on record in WTA history. While she can use her power to hit high numbers of winners, Osaka's key to success is to be able to win long rallies. One of the first notable instances in which that strategy proved successful was when Osaka made her first career WTA final at the 2016 Pan Pacific Open.
Osaka credited improving her mental approach and cutting down on unforced errors for her breakthrough season in 2018. At the Wuhan Open towards the end of the year, she noted that, "I think my biggest improvement is mental. My game is more consistent, there are not so many unforced errors. I'm not sure how many I hit today, but sometimes last year I was hitting a lot!" She attributed some of these changes to her coach Sascha Bajin, saying, "Since I was working with [Bajin] — and I tend to be a bit negative on myself — I feel like I've gotten a little bit more optimistic ... I fight myself a lot, so he's sort of been, like, the peacemaker." Bajin also agreed with Osaka on the impact of having a patient, positive approach in each match.
Osaka has been represented by the IMG management company since 2016. The Japanese sporting equipment manufacturer Yonex has supplied her with rackets since 2008. She plays with the Yonex Ezone 98 racket, equipped with Polytour Pro 125 and Rexis 130 strings. Nike has been her apparel sponsor since 2019. She had previously been sponsored by Adidas for four years.
Osaka is a brand ambassador for Japanese automobile manufacturer Nissan and Japanese electronics manufacturer Citizen Watch. She also endorses several other Japanese companies, including noodle maker Nissin Foods, cosmetics producer Shiseido, the broadcasting station Wowow, and airline All Nippon Airways (ANA). Osaka is one of the most marketable female athletes in the world, earning an estimated $16 million in endorsements alone in 2019, which placed her second in the world behind Serena Williams who earned $25 million in endorsements.
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