Naomi Osaka has grown in stature over the course of the last couple of years, both on and off the field. The three-time Grand Slam winner has evolved into an international icon in her sport. The 23-year old was earlier claimed as the highest-earning female athlete in the world. She has been a leading voice of empowerment against racism which was amplified during the US Open last year.
While she is considered as one of the leading female athletes in the world, Osaka had her influences while growing up. She revealed that apart from her family, US tennis great Serena Williams has been a source of inspiration for the 23-year old.
“I’m someone who grew up playing tennis and wanted to become good enough to play on a global scale. And somehow, I did it,” Osaka said in an interview with Fashion Weekly.
“I have quite a few role models actually. Having many role models is great because you can draw traits from each of them and build your own ideal. My family will of course always be my number one influence, and I really admire Serena Williams.”
Naomi feels that the new generation of tennis stars are different from the old ones and the stars of today do not shy away from highlighting anything wrong. The reigning US Open champion is optimistic about the future of the sport as she feels that the new stars are not afraid of talking against issues and raising their voice.
“I’m very optimistic about the future of tennis,” Osaka said. “There are a lot of new personalities on the tour, which is really good for the sport. When you think of the Wimbledon white rule for example, it’s maybe easy to see tennis as a bland sport, but it’s changing deeply. And I think it’s going to be fun.”
“The newer generation has a strong voice and is not afraid to use it,” she added. “They’re going to have a very loud off-court presence, and I count myself a part of that, because I’m constantly being inspired by things that are happening off the court.”
The Japanese tennis icon will be in action at the Australian Open next month. She will look to improve on her performance from the last edition of the event where she lost against American youngster Coco Gauff in the third round.