6 Things to Know About Tennis Superstar Naomi Osaka
While the entire world is familiar with Serena Williams’s skills on the tennis court, the woman going toe-to-toe with the 23-time Grand Slam champion at the U.S. Open final is lesser known.
Naomi Osaka has been playing professional tennis since 2013, and she became an international sensation when she beat the highly-seasoned Angelique Kerber in the first round of last year’s finals. In addition to defeating Kerber, Osaka has won matches over other long-time tennis greats, including Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep.
Before she faces off against Williams’s on Saturday afternoon, here’s what you should know about the 20-year-old tennis newbie. Scroll below for some very important facts on Osaka…
This Isn’t Her First Time Playing Against Serena Williams
At the Miami Masters in March, Osaka won a match against Williams 6-3 6-2, according to The Telegraph. But let’s remember this was right after Serena gave birth to baby Olympia, so potentially she was just warming up.
Her Style Is Just as Good Off the Court
You may be used to only seeing Naomi in her stylish tennis gear, consisting of colorful skirt and tank combos, but she also serves up sartorial envy outside the stadium. Take, for instance, the floral maxidress with pleated panels by Sacai that she wore to a Women’s Tennis Association event in June.
Like Serena, Her Sister Is Also a Professional Tennis Player
Naomi and her older sister Mari Osaka, who is also a tennis pro, are sometimes loosely compared to Venus and Serena Williams. The duo have been doubles partners for years, representing their Japanese heritage one defeat at a time.
She’s Super Into Pokémon
When asked about her goals during a press conference, Osaka wittingly responded with a Pokémon reference, saying that she wanted “to be the very best that no one ever was.” Not everyone was in on the joke. "That’s a Pokémon quote, I’m sorry. That’s the Pokémon theme song,” she explained. “But, yeah, to be the very best, and go as far as I can go."
Her Family’s Dog Has an Adorably Fitting Name
The Osakas’ black and white pooch is named Panda, which makes sense considering that face. However, Naomi thinks Panda bears a greater resemblance to a baby cow. That works, too.
She May Be Japanese, But Can’t Speak the Language (Yet!)
According to Racquet, Naomi can understand Japanese, but isn’t able to carry on a full-fledged conversation. At the Australian Open, her handler asked questions in English, followed by Japanese. Surprised, Naomi asked: “English only?” The experience may have prompted her recent off-season goal of studying the language with classes and speaking it at home.