All eyes are on Naomi Osaka: Olympics 2021's cauldron lighter at the opening ceremony.
The young tennis player touts notable accomplishments as the second-rated player in the world: she holds two US Open and Australian Open titles respectively, earns the highest payout of any female athlete in the world according to Forbes, and is considered the first Asian player to hold top rankings in singles. Plus, she's only 23 years old!
But there's a lot more to the sports superstar than you thought—here's everything you need to know about Naomi Osaka.
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Naomi Osaka: siblings and family life
Naomi Osaka is of both Haitian and Japanese descent. Her father, Leonard Francois, met her mother, Tamaki Osaka, while attending college in Japan. For years, Tamaki's family disapproved of their relationship but ultimately came around.
The tennis star has done quite a bit of flip-flopping in terms of location: she was born in Japan but grew up in the U.S., moving with her family to Valley Stream in Long Island, New York when she was three.
Tennis has always been a family affair: Naomi was coached by her father and played doubles with her older sister Mari, who has since retired from the sport. However, her family is her most supportive fanbase.
Does Naomi Osaka speak Japanese?
She does! According to Essentially Sports, Naomi speaks Japanese with her mother.
Where does Naomi Osaka live now?
Currently, Naomi is living in Beverly Hills, California.
Naomi Osaka birthday: When was she born?
Naomi was born on October 16th, 1997. That puts her right on the cusp of Gen Z and also makes her a Libra.
What country does Naomi Osaka represent at the Olympics?
Osaka withdrew from the French Open and announced that she would not be participating in Wimbledon this spring, but did confirm that will be in Japan to compete at the Tokyo Olympics on July 23rd. She will represent her native Japan instead of the United States.
"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," her parents stated, according to The Washington Post. "Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese, so that was our only rationale."
Naomi Osaka Olympic cauldron lighting
During the Olympics Opening Ceremony on July 23rd, Naomi did the honors of lighting the cauldron. According to CNN, speculation arose that she was selected for the tradition when Tokyo 2020 organizers requested that her opening match be pushed back from Saturday to Sunday (a move which was granted).
"Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life," Osaka wrote on Instagram. "I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness ❤️ love you guys thank you."
Naomi Osaka grandparents
The tennis star's grandfather, Tetsuo Osaka, is particularly impressed with the young athlete's abilities. He was quick to make predictions about her career when speaking with Essentially Sports.
"It’s like mountain climbing. She’s like an alpinist going after higher mountains, and I think she’ll be able to keep going for about 10 years," he revealed to the publication.
Naomi Osaka net worth: How much is she worth?
According to Forbes, Osaka has made $60 million in 12 months alone—$55 million from endorsements—breaking the very earnings record she set only a year earlier for female athletes when she made $37 million.
She is currently number 12 on the Forbes highest-paid athletes list, tied with golfing icon Tiger Woods. The closest woman on the list? Osaka's idol Serena Williams at $41.5 million, who Naomi famously defeated at the 2018 US Open.
Naomi Osaka mental health activism
Osaka has always stood in solidarity with the Black community and raises awareness about racial inequality, something you can see on her social media or through her fashion choices, as she's known for wearing face masks that support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Additionally, she's a mental health advocate who declined to take interviews after matches as a result of the pressure she experienced. This ultimately caused her to withdraw from the French Open, which earned support from peers like Venus Williams. You can read her decision about stepping down on Instagram.
Naomi Osaka Barbie doll
Mattel has just released a Naomi Osaka doll as part of the Barbie Role Model series. It hit shelves on Monday, July 12th...and is already sold out. Keep your eyes on the Barbie website to learn when the popular toy will be back in stock.
"I really hope every child is reminded that they can be and do anything," Osaka wrote on Instagram ahead of the release.
Naomi Osaka Netflix: When will her doc premiere?
On Friday, July 16th, a Netflix docuseries named after the athlete premiered on the streaming platform. It explores her life in the sport, beliefs that are close to her heart, including the Black Lives Matter movement, and the pressures young athletes face. Watch the trailer below:
Naomi Osaka in the media
The tennis sensation has landed notable magazine covers, including TIME and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which caused conservative journalists Megyn Kelly and Clay Travis to lash out at the athlete on Twitter, insisting she had not been honest about her mental health struggles.
Naturally, many were quick to come to Naomi's defense. "It's such bullying, and it's so unnecessary," SI Swimsuit Editor M.J. Day said on an episode of the "People Every Day" podcast.
The athlete also defended her position in a now-deleted tweet. According to NBC, it read: "Seeing as you’re a journalist I would’ve assumed you would take the time to research what the lead times are for magazines, if you did that you would’ve found out I shot all of my covers last year."
"Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan."
Danielle is a writer for My Imperfect Life, where she particularly enjoys covering lifestyle and entertainment news. She was previously the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. When she's not working, you can find her reading a good book and enjoying a cup of coffee. Follow her @dvwrites.
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