Naomi Osaka started 2021 by disputing the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne, where, in the semifinal, she decided to withdraw from the tournament, due to a discomfort in her shoulder. At the Australian Open, Osaka defeated Anastasia Pavljučenkova, Caroline Garcia, Ons Jabeur, Garbine Muguruza, Hsieh Su-Wei, Serena Williams and, in the final, Jennifer Brady.
Naomi managed to win her fourth Grand Slam title, her second in Melbourne: Osaka became the fourth player still in business to have triumphed in at least 4 Grand Slam trials, together with her sisters Williams and Kim Clijsters.
She is also the third player in the Open era, together with Monica Seles and Roger Federer, to have won the first 4 Slam finals played. But we all know that one of the goals of the season, for the young Japanese star, is the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, moved from the original date to 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Osaka has a particular relationship with Japan, but in a recent interview she spoke of the pride of representing her country at the Tokyo Olympics.
Naomi Osaka: "I'm proud to compete for Japan in the Olympics"
She said: "Since I have spent a lot of time in Japan in my teens and early adult life, those memories are clearer than my early childhood.
It’s a bit more difficult to go out publicly in Japan than it used to be. So sometimes I disguise myself in a cap and wig. I give credit equally to all those cultures for shaping me into the person I am today. I credit my Japanese side for my discipline, good manners, cleanliness and sense of style.
My mom’s work ethic, working two jobs a day to support my tennis, has rubbed off on me too. My American side has allowed me to be more open-minded and progressive. And my Haitian side has given me the courage to push through when things get tough.
Japan is such an important part of my life and my makeup. I am proud of who I am and no one will be prouder than me when I compete for Japan in the Olympics later this year, hopefully with your full support!"