Naomi Osaka

WGL 2021-Naomi Osaka
Cameron Spencer—Getty Images
  • Title
    Pro Tennis Player
  • Affiliation
    Women’s Tennis Association

Reaching the top of the world’s tennis rankings and winning two Grand Slams in under six months would be a career year for any tennis player. But for 23-year-old Naomi Osaka, her powerful serve on the court may not have been as impactful as her voice off it. After visiting Minneapolis last summer to participate in protests against the killing of George Floyd, she withdrew from one tennis tournament in protest of systemic racism and police brutality. To the U.S. Open, she wore seven masks, a different one for each match—each emblazoned with names like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tamir Rice, to commemorate Black victims of police violence. She won every match en route to a championship. Osaka plans to return home to Japan this summer to lead her country’s Olympic delegation. Born to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Osaka gave up her U.S. citizenship in 2019 so that she could compete for her home country—where she has become a transformative figure in her own right. In December, influential manga comic book maker Nakayoshi released a new series starring Osaka—one of the only times a manga comic has featured a biracial protagonist. The series is called Unrivaled Naomi Tenkaichi. “Tenkaichi” translates, in English, to “the best in the world.”