Naomi Osaka's family members and mentors expressed a flurry of emotions following her Sept. 9 (Japan time) victory over Serena Williams in the U.S. Open tennis tournament final.
Osaka's father Leonard, who went to New York for her match, said he was beyond excited, and relieved to see her win. Her mother Tamaki, meanwhile, shed tears with her daughter in the stands as they hugged each other following her victory, which gave her the honor of becoming the first Japanese to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title. Osaka's coach, Sascha Bajin said he was "super happy" and proud of her.
Osaka is the only women's tennis player in Japan to be listed as a high performer to be supported as a potential medalist in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Toshihisa Tsuchihashi, a director of the Japan Tennis Association and general manager of the association's High Performance Department, commented, "There's nothing that would make me happier than for an athlete aiming to reach the pinnacle of a tour to go on to win a gold medal."
Osaka's grandfather Tetsuo Osaka, 73, chief of a fishery cooperative in Nemuro in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, watched Osaka's match against Williams at his home in the city on Sept. 9. He seemed surprised at his granddaughter's stellar performance on the world stage, and remarked, "She'll be happy about that." The moment she won the match, his wife and daughter threw their arms in the air in celebration and shed tears of joy, he said.
Tetsuo Osaka said he saw his granddaughter's match on television as the crowd cheered for the former World No. 1 player Williams, and booed when Osaka won. He said he was touched by the sight of his granddaughter beating such a strong player. "She's surpassed me to become a celebrity," he said.
Osaka has never been to Nemuro, but she is said to have expressed a desire to visit the place where her mother was born, although her grandfather commented, "She'll be busy and I guess it will be difficult for her (to come soon)."
(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Asatsuma, Sports News Department, and Hiroaki Honma, Nemuro News Department)