Though some may beg to differ, ethnicity can be a matter of choice, especially for people from a multi-ethnic background like Naomi Osaka. She seems to have made the right choice about which of her lineage to officially align with, especially when one considers how successful her career has been. While discussing her ethnicity in interviews, she jokingly mentions that so many people cheer for her when she plays because they can’t really pinpoint where she really belongs.
Naomi is an award-winning tennis player whose career progression has defiled several norms. She presently holds 5 titles on the Women Tennis Association (WTA) Tour and made the world stand agog in 2018 after defeating her idol Serena Williams to bag her first Grand Slam Singles at the US Open. Naomi has shown that she has what it takes to be a tennis star with her powerful serve and aggressive playing style; the world can’t stop talking about her.
The Truth About Naomi Osaka’s Parents and Ethnicity
Even though Naomi was forced to make a choice about her citizenship in 2019, which resulted in her revoking her American citizenship for Japan because the latter country mandated making a choice for all its citizens at age 22; Naomi is a mix of several cultures which has helped shaped her.
She was born in Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan on the 16th of October 1997 to a mother who is Japanese and a father who is from Haiti. The family lived in Japan until she was three years old; that was when they relocated to Long Island, New York.
They lived with her father’s parents who spoke Haitian Creole. Thus, Naomi Osaka was raised in a household of Haitian and Japanese cultures as an American citizen. Commenting on her choice to represent Japan, her parents revealed that it had been determined from the onset, way before she became successful, that she was going to represent the country as she and her sister identified themselves as more of Japanese.
One of the major factors that have aided Naomi’s successful tennis career is her supportive parents. Her father is Leonard Francoise and her mother is Tamaki Osaka. She openly discusses their humble backgrounds and the sacrifices they made for her to have the career she has today. While her father took it upon himself to train Naomi and her sister, her mother had to stay home to work and meet their basic needs. Mari Osaka is Naomi’s older sister and she is also a Japanese tennis player.
Details of Her Career Journey As a Tennis Player
Naomi Osaka never participated or competed at the ITF Junior Circuit. This was one of the reasons she had a rough start in her career, as she didn’t have any form of track record which would have served as a reference point for her.
Naomi played her first qualifying match in 2011 when she turned 14. She didn’t qualify for her first singles draw until her seventh attempt. She also didn’t win a title at the ITF level but finished as a runner-up on four occasions.
By 2013 just before she turned sixteen, Naomi became a professional tennis player. As she continued to progress and improve her game, she qualified for her first WTA main draw in 2014. In her tour-level debut, she won a tough match against Samantha Stosur (World No 19) even though she ranked at No 406. As she had more wins, she proceeded to the top 250 by the end of the season.
In 2015, she qualified for 2 Grand Slam Singles events and even won her first match at the US Open. She finished the year ranked No. 144. Naomi Osaka kept pulling off more wins and her ranking continued to improve. Ultimately, it gave her the opportunity to qualify for major tournaments and play against players in the top 10.
Major Highlights of her Career
According to Naomi, she has a knack for playing better against bigger players on bigger courts. She has steadily risen through the ranks, demolishing several renowned players and three world number 1 players to earn her first WTA title in 2018.
With her current Australian Open win, she ranked No.1 in January 2019 but is ranked No.3 as of October 2019. She also holds the record as the first Asian player to hold any top ranking in singles.
With 5 WTA Tour titles under her belt, which includes an Indian Wells Open, US Open, and Australian Open amongst others, Naomi Osaka continues to smile to the bank with her juicy endorsement deals.