Naomi Osaka is one of the leading forces in the WTA Tour. She has won three Grand Slam titles so far, and it seems like this will only be extended with time. Her most recent win was the US Open 2020 championship. At the US Open 2018 and the Australian Open 2019, Osaka won her first two Grand Slam singles titles in back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments.
Naomi was born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother. Along with tennis, Osaka has a particular fondness for gaming. Recently, she got her hands on the new Play Station 5. When asked about her experience with it, she said:
“It’s my childhood dream. It’s very different because I use the PS4 block controller… In between tennis practices and matches, I would be on the Play Station pretty much all day.”
The success of Naomi Osaka off the court Osaka is one of the most marketable athletes in the world. She has capitalized on her status of being a Grand Slam champion. In 2020, she holds the tag of being “the highest-earning female athlete” not only in tennis but across all sports. She was also included in Time’s annual list of “100 most influential people in the world” both in 2019 and 2020.
While sharing her gaming experience on her new console, Osaka added “Gaming is kind of a relaxing thing unless I get really competitive… You don’t really think about anything in the world and you feel so immersed that you’re not even thinking about what’s happening.”
Osaka pulled out of the French Open due to a hamstring injury. With the WTA Finals in Shenzhen canceled, women’s tennis will resume in the next year. That gives her enough time to recover to continue with her successful run on tennis courts.
“Silence is violence” has been one of the phrases painted on protest signs and written in Instagram posts following the murder of George Floyd. But for many Black people, saying those words can feel like a broken record. Since the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the wounds of racism and inequality have not only sparked outrage but also activism — and tennis champion Naomi Osaka, who is of Haitian and Japanese descent, has taken up the charge on a global stage.
During the US Open in September, the athlete wore seven different masks with the names of Black men and women who were killed at the hands of police brutality and racial discrimination. When ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi asked what message Osaka intended to get across with her masks, without missing a beat she turned the question back on him asking, “Well, what was the message you got, is more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”
Now, Osaka is continuing the conversation in a new commercial promoting the new Beats by Dre Flex headphones. In the video, she prepares for a tennis match, stretching her wrists and watching the countdown clock before walking toward the court and showing us the phrase “Silence is violence” spelled out in beads across her braids. The commercial is one of three in the campaign featuring her boyfriend and rapper, Cordae, and Alabama-born rapper Flo Milli as they promote activism and resistance against the historical constraints of white supremacy.
Osaka’s Instagram caption underneath the video captures her self awareness and the power she holds to fight for equality for Black people. “As a kid growing up I never really talked, I was the quiet one (honestly still am lol), I was the one that wanted to just skate by unnoticed and conflict-free,” she wrote. “But the beauty of growing up is learning and seeing things for yourself, one of the things I’ve learned is that everyone has a platform and how they use it is their responsibility. As I grow more I will learn more things, but at the moment I can only hope I’m using my platform well.”
Like Lizzo’s call to engage us to vote by wearing a braided “40%” atop her head last month, Osaka reminds us that there is power in Black hair. Not only is it beautiful, but when it takes up space — much like our voices — it is impossible to deny its presence.
During one of his latest press conferences, Tiley answered the question about the preferential treatment reserved for tennis players in Adelaide with an analysis perhaps correct in substance but questionable in form: “I have the feeling that this is perceived as preferential treatment.
But they are still the best players in the world. My opinion is that if you are at the top of the rankings, if you are a Grand Slam champion, you will get a better deal. This makes sense to me and is far from shocking."
A sentence that throws further fuel on the fire especially after the annoyed reactions of many tennis players who have considered this different treatment particularly unfair, especially when compared to the poor conditions they are forced to in Melbourne hotels.
Many top players have naively fallen out in the past few days, infuriating many other tennis players, fans and people in Australia, especially the state of Victoria. Like Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty, photographed while they were around without a mask, thus violating health and safety regulations.
The later removed video of Naomi Osaka while she trained with her entire team was also the subject of controversy. Guido Pella also publicly attacked Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem for their "disturbing silences"
Adelaide's performance starring Serena Williams, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Jannik Sinner, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka and of course Ashleigh Barty risks becoming a boomerang for both the tournament organizers and the tennis players themselves, such as mesis in showcase, through a veil of criticism and controversy.
Wasn't it better to give other tennis players the opportunity to perform in order to calm at least some of the too many (and often useless) controversies surrounding the tournament?
While Osaka was out on the court mid-match against Tunisia's Ons Jabeur during their women's singles match on Friday a fan yelled, "There's a butterfly on your legs." Before serving, Osaka took time to not only acknowledge the butterfly, but to gently escort the insect off of the court.
The Women's Tennis Association tweeted a clip that shows Osaka walking the butterfly to the edge of the court and attempting to safely release it into the air. During the exchange the butterfly lands on Osaka's legs, arms, and even face.
Fans watching at home delighted in the unexpected interaction, and for good reason. The video clips and photos of Osaka and the Australian Open butterfly are downright adorable.