Date of Birth – October 16, 1997
Nationality – Japanese
Role – Right-Handed, Two-handed Backhand (Aggressive Baseliner)
Coach – Wim Fissette
Current Ranking – No. 2
Highest Ranking – No. 1 (January 28, 2019)
Career Earnings – US$19,773,132
Win/Loss – 246/136
WTA Titles – 3
Grand Slams – 4
Forthcoming, insightful and eloquent, Naomi Osaka is a living embodiment of diversity. Born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Naomi has been raised and trained on the US shores since she was three years old. In 2013, she turned pro at just 15 and came to prominence at the age of 16 when she defeated former US Open Champion Samantha Stosur in her WTA Tour debut.
At the 2018 US Open, Naomi beat her childhood idol Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam. Her subsequent win at the 2019 Australian Open made her the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles. Later, on 28 January 2019, Naomi Osaka became the first Asian player to hold the top rank in the singles circuit. As per Sportico, the 23-year-old has earned a massive US$55 million worth of traditional endorsement, making her the first female athlete to ever earn such a sum in a calendar year.
Best Finishes at each Grand Slam
Australian Open – Champion (2019, 2021)
Roland Garros – 3R (2016, 2018, 2019)
Wimbledon – 3R (2017, 2018)
US Open – Champion (2018, 2020)
Style of Play
Being an aggressive baseliner, Osaka has bags of raw power, especially on her forehand and service game. As a 16-year-old, she could hit forehand winners at 160 km/h and her clock serves up close to 200 km/h. With time, both of these aspects improved, making her one of the top ten servers in the WTA Tour history. Though her playing style has enabled her to bully opponents in the hardcourts, the same cannot be said about her performances in Clay and Grass, with progression to the third round being her best outputs in the Roland Garros and the Wimbledon.
Sponsorships & Endorsements
Louis Vuitton – In January 2021, French fashion house Louis Vuitton unveiled Naomi Osaka as a brand ambassador. Though the financial terms of the deal were not made public, according to The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, the deal is estimated to fetch her a ‘seven-figure’ salary annually. As part of the agreement, the four-time Grand Slam winner will feature in Louis Vuitton’s Spring Summer 2021 campaign by designer Nicholas Ghesquière.
Tag Heuer – Just a week after signing her ‘seven-figure’ deal with Louis Vuitton, Naomi Osaka added another brand to her growing list of sponsors. Tag Heuer took to social media to announce Osaka as their new brand ambassador, the deal adding Naomi Osaka with fellow tennis player Petra Kvitova and golfer Tommy Fleetwood on the company’s impressive roster of athlete ambassadors.
Hyperice – On the same day Naomi Osaka was named the No. 1 seed for the 2019 US Open, she also signed her deal with Hyperice, a recovery and performance technology brand that specializes in vibration and percussion fitness devices. Though the exact financial terms of the deal were not made public, the deal reportedly fetches her in millions each year.
Mastercard – Mastercard, a financial services company and one of the world’s most active sponsors of sporting events, announced its partnership with the Japanese sensation just before the 2019 French Open. The Mastercard logo was first seen on her visor during the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open. The details of the agreement have been kept secret ever since, though the addition of Osaka speaks volumes about the opportunities Mastercard sees in Asia as a region overall.
Nike – After winning her first two Grand Slam titles, Osaka’s deal with Adidas came up for renewal, Nike beat the likes of Adidas and Uniqlo for her signature. The deal reportedly earns her around US$8.5 million a year. Apart from Li Na of China, Naomi became only the second athlete whom Nike has allowed to have other partner patches on Nike apparel. Nike has recently tied her down to two new deals – “Play Academy”, a paid partnership with Laurens Sports for Good and Nike that helps young women achieve their dreams of making a career in sports, while her second collection includes both on-court and off-court apparel, part of a massive US$10 million a year deal with the brand.
All Nippon Airways – All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the largest airline in Japan. The airliner roped in Japan’s pride Naomi Osaka as a brand ambassador after her 2018 US Open victory. The deal meant that Osaka would be sporting the ANA logo when she played tournaments all around the globe. Yuki Hirako, President and CEO of ANA, said, “We are very pleased to partner with Naomi Osaka. She was born in Japan and raised in the U.S., echoing both ANA’s Japanese roots and its global ambitions.”
Shiseido – Japanese beauty Company Shiseido roped in its national superstar in 2018, Naomi was unveiled as its global brand ambassador and was seen frontline Shiseido’s BareMinerals makeup and Anessa sunscreen lines. The group didn’t elaborate on the nature of the agreement with Osaka, but local reports have claimed the deal to be flirting around a ‘seven-figure’ mark annually.
BodyArmor – Naomi Osaka joined the BodyArmor roster in 2019 after she was introduced to the brand by the late Kobe Byrant, who mentored her after her sudden rise to stardom. Founded in 2011, the emerging sports drink company had a scant 0.2% market share in 2014 and jumped to 10% by the time Naomi was roped in. Forbes expects this company to leapfrog market leader Gatorade by 2025.
Nissan – Naomi Osaka signed a three-year deal with global car manufacturer Nissan days after reports emerged that Adidas was set to reward her with the biggest contract it had ever given a female athlete. Along with being their brand ambassador, the Japanese manufacturer was quick to add her to its “Creators Unite” campaign.
Nissin Group – 2016 was a breakthrough season for Naomi as she qualified for Grand Slam tournaments for the first time in her career and earned the 2016 WTA Newcomer of the Year award. Nissin, a food products company in Japan, came sniffing around for her signatures and tied up a deal with this future superstar. Osaka, 19, said at a news conference in Tokyo that she was happy to be with Nissin as she has eaten the popular cup noodle since she was a child.
Citizen – Japanese watchmaker Citizen signed up Osaka in 2018 before her first Grand Slam success. She was wearing a Citizen watch when she won her first Grand Slam title. Her success meant that all Citizen watches were sold out in record time in Japan. The finer details of the deal haven’t been made public, but reports suggest that the deal incorporates a bigger bonus payment on tournament victories, which is substantially higher than the guaranteed payments she receives.
Yonex – Naomi’s mother, Tamaki Osaka, sent a letter to the Yonex president in Japan asking for product support. Yonex looked at Osaka’s talent and immediately agreed. This was back in 2008, and ever since then Naomi has been using Yonex racquets. Some believe that the partnership is just a long-term deal, while many believe it to be a lifetime agreement between the two parties.
Wowow – Japanese satellite broadcaster Wowow signed a long-term sponsorship deal with Osaka in 2016. Together with Kei Nishikori, Osaka became the face of all tennis coverage for the Japanese broadcaster through interviews, personal appearances and digital marketing campaigns.
Sweetgreen – Earlier this month, American salad chain and fast-casual restaurant chain, Sweetgreen, announced its first-ever national athlete ambassador and its youngest investor, Naomi Osaka. The partnership marks the first food collaboration for Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, philanthropist and advocate. “Our goal is a big one: to change the way brands and athletes speak to future generations about the importance of what they eat,” said Nathaniel Ru, co-founder and Chief Brand Officer.
Workday – Workday, a human resources technology company, agreed on a new sponsorship deal with Osaka – her third sponsor – in January 2021, on the back of an eventful 2020 where she was widely praised for raising awareness regarding racial injustice through her support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on her way to winning the US Open for the second time in September. Though the release announcement didn’t give away any terms of the deal, Workday cited Osaka’s role as “a leading voice of the social justice movement” as one element of her commercial appeal.
Adidas – Adidas roped in a young 16-year-old Naomi Osaka in 2014 in a four-year deal that reportedly paid her a ‘six-figure’ salary annually. With the deal expiring by the end of 2018, her success at the 2018 US Open opened the floodgate for major brands to tap into an untouched market. Adidas were ready to offer her the biggest contract it has ever offered to any female athlete, but as a three-way battle ensued with Nike and Uniqlo sniffing around, it was Nike who priced away Adidas’ golden child and left the brand to look elsewhere.
Business Ventures & Investments
Hyperice – Naomi Osaka’s relationship with Hyperice is on an endorsement level as well as in equity stake form. Hyperice, a performance recovery brand helping players with recovery and wellbeing, has bagged a lucrative sponsorship deal with reigning NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers. Earlier, Hyperice was the recovery technology sponsor of the NBA, but the deal with the Lakers is a major one as they are the reigning champions and feature one of the greatest basketball players of all time in LeBron James.
Sweetgreen – At 23, Osaka is Sweetgreen’s youngest investor and its first national athlete ambassador. The four-time Grand Slam winner is a longtime Sweetgreen customer, the chain has claimed. The athlete worked with Sweetgreen’s culinary team to create a custom bowl available only via the brand’s app. The Naomi Osaka bowl debuted this 20th May and all the proceeds from the sales were sent to the Asian-American-Pacific-Islander (AAPI) organisations that work to increase food access to those communities.
Soto – In 2020, Naomi signed a new deal with premium Japanese sake brand Soto. The deal will see her as an investor and a creative consultant tasked with overseeing the brand known for its authentic taste and high-end quality. In a press statement the 23-year-old said, “As a native of Japan, I am proud to be involved with a product that is authentically Japanese. SOTO’s status as a made-in-Japan, traditional ‘Japanese sake’ is another major reason I’m supporting the brand.”
North Carolina Courage – Naomi Osaka dipped her toes into other sports franchise as well when she acquired ownership stake in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side North Carolina Courage. While the financial terms of her investment have not been disclosed, the 23-year-old became the first investor to join team owner Steve Malik since he purchased the Courage and relocated them to North Carolina in 2017. “My investment in the North Carolina Courage is far beyond just being a team owner. It’s an investment in amazing women who are role models and leaders in their fields and inspirations to all young female athletes,” Osaka said in a statement.
- First Asian player to be crowned the World No. 1 in singles (both men and women).
- The only player since Monica Seles to win all four of her Grand Slam finals.
- First Japanese player to win a singles Grand Slam title.
- First female athlete to earn US$50 million or more on endorsements in a calendar year.
Rivalry & Legacy
With Serena Williams nearing 40, like many other sports, it’s just a matter of time before a change of guard takes place. In 1999, it was Leonard François – Naomi’s father – who was inspired to teach his daughters tennis by watching the Williams sisters compete in the French Open. Ever since then, Naomi has been a fan and considers Serena as her childhood idol. But when the two met in the 2018 US Open final, the world witnessed something magical, as the underdog hassled the 23-time Grand Slam winner – not to forget Serena’s on-court drama with the chair umpire that made the audience go against Naomi – but the young Japanese kept her composure to win her first-ever Grand Slam title. Following that, the two have locked horns on three different occasions, with Naomi leading the head-to-head battle 3-1 against her idol.
Notable Charity Work
During the Covid-19 lockdown in July 2020, Naomi and her older sister, Mari Osaka, collaborated with UNICEF to design and produce a limited-edition face mask, the proceeds of which went to the needy people of Japan, where she hails from.