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Tennis player Naomi Osaka’s win at the 2018 U.S. Open on Saturday was overshadowed by the controversy between Serena Williams and the match umpire, but that doesn’t mean the 20-year-old phenom can be easily forgotten.
She has been gradually building her name in the tennis circuit with a big highlight being her first WTA win at BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March.
But now she will go down in history as another woman of color, and the first Japanese player, to win a tennis Grand Slam.
Here are five things to know about her:
She Reps Japan, Haiti, And The U.S.
Osaka maybe representing Japan at the tournament –and holds dual citizenship with the U.S. — but she is also a proud Haitian. Born to a Haitian father and Japanese mother in Osaka, Japan, she now calls Florida home.
“I can understand way more Japanese than I can speak,” she told USA TODAY. “And when I go to Japan people are confused. From my name, they don’t expect to see a black girl.”
And when asked about her Japanese and American background at the Australian Open, she made sure to remind everyone that she was also Haitian: “Of course, I am really honored to be playing for Japan. And my dad’s side is Haitian. So…represent!”
Her Doubles Partner Is Her Older Sister
Osaka grew up playing tennis alongside her older sister, Mari, who also plays professional tennis. The duo has competed together as doubles partners, which of course, bring up comparisons to Venus and Serena Williams.
Osaka Began To Represent Japan In Competition At Age 13
According to reports, the Osaka sisters were forced to start representing Japan in competition after the United States Tennis Association had “little interest” in them. At the time, neither Naomi nor Mari had a junior ranking or much experience on the competitive front.
So at 13, her father decided to have his daughters represent the country they left when the tennis phenom was three.
She Has A Powerful Serve
Osaka went pro in 2013. Since then, many have been watching her powerful serve. She clocked a 125 mph serve at the 2016 U.S. Open, a speed that only eight women ever have achieved, according to USA Today.
Serena Williams Has Recognized Osaka’s Talent
Before their U.S. Open final meeting, Williams, who is idolized by Osaka, took note of the now 20-year-old during the Australian Open two years ago.:
“I have seen her play. She’s really young and really aggressive. She’s a really good, talented player. Very dangerous.”
We look forward to the two women playing each other again!
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