Kim Munn

Naomi Osaka was the talk of the town in September 2018. She had not only won her first Grand Slam, but she had also defeated her hero Serena Williams at the US Open, making her the first Japanese player to win a trophy.

As a result, she solidified her position as the future of women’s tennis.

After watching the Williams sisters on television, Osaka and her older sister Mari were encouraged to pursue a tennis career. Their father, Leonard Francois, coached them to excel in tennis and follow in the footsteps of legends like Williams.

Her father had no tennis experience but was inspired by Richard Williams, the father of the Williams sisters. He watched videos and followed Richard Williams’ blueprint.

So, who is Naomi Osaka and how does she like to spend her time?

Naomi’s mother is Haitian and her father is Japanese

Tamaki, a Hokkaido native, and Haitian-born Leonard Francois had Osaka in 1997. The pair met in Japan and secretly dated for several years. Tamaki’s family disapproved of their relationship and chastised her for bringing the family’s name into disrepute. Following that, the couple decided to relocate to Long Island to live with Francois’ family.

Because she moved to New York when she was three years old, Osaka’s memories of Japan are vague. Her five years on Long Island brought back memories of spicy Haitian stews and seaweed-and-rice-ball snacks at school, as well as dressing up in kimonos for international day.

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Naomi adopted her mother’s surname

Instead of giving Osaka her father’s surname, her parents decided to give her the surname of her mother. It was a practical way to live in Japan at a period when the country’s regulations were not particularly hospitable to outsiders.

Even though Osaka grew up in the United States and even held American citizenship, Leonard and Tamaki decided that their girls would represent Japan rather than the United States.

Osaka’s parents said in a 2018 interview with The Wall Street Journal that the United States Tennis Association had failed to recognize her talent and only tried to recruit her when she was 16 years old. Osaka had already committed to the Japan Tennis Association at the time.

A year later, the tennis star utilized her American citizenship to represent Japan at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as well as to comply with Japan’s Nationality Act, which prohibits dual citizenship after the age of 22.

When I compete for Japan in the Olympics, no one will be prouder than me.

Naomi attributes her current self to her unique upbringing

The 23-year-old used to teach that having a household with a diverse mix of cultures and influences — Japanese, Haitian, and American — was normal. However, upon consideration, she understood that her upbringing was one-of-a-kind. Despite her fondness for Japanese cuisine, manga, and Harajuku fashion, she attributes her development to all of her cultures equally.

Her work ethic and discipline were influenced by her mother, who worked two jobs to support her tennis career. She also attributes her manners, cleanliness, and sense of style to her Japanese heritage.

She learned to be progressive and open-minded as she grew up in America, but her Haitian heritage taught her resilience.

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By Meera