Naomi Osaka won the women's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships, becoming the first Japanese player to ever clinch the title in a Grand Slam singles event, jumping to the zenith of the international tennis world in one step and making Japanese sports history.
Many spectators apparently hoped to see Serena Williams of the United States, who came back from giving birth to a daughter, take the final. Osaka was on hostile ground, but overwhelmed her opponent, who has been her role model since she was a little girl.
As Williams began to lag behind Osaka following her repeated complaints to the umpire, many spectators began to boo in support of Williams. Despite these unusual circumstances, Osaka maintained her cool and kept focused on the match.
She made a moving speech at the awarding ceremony, too. Osaka showed consideration for fans that had cheered for Williams, and thanked them for watching the match. She also gave her thanks to her opponent for playing with her. These remarks showed her straightforward and unassuming personality.
Born in the city of Osaka in western Japan to an American father of Haitian descent and a Japanese mother, Osaka, who stands at 180 centimeters tall, hits fast serves and powerful shots that her predecessors in the Japanese tennis community lacked.
She overcame psychological hiccups with the help of her German coach. Osaka has learned to be patient. By learning to control the power on which she depends, Osaka is now able to unleash her abilities at exactly the right moment. Her latest victory came in part because she was able to establish trust with her coach in such a short period of time.
Osaka's excellent performance also made many people think about what it means to be Japanese.
Osaka moved to the United States when she was 3 years old, and is a dual citizen of Japan and the U.S. She can understand Japanese to some degree, but has difficulty speaking. Nevertheless, she chose to play for Japan, saying her heart is closer to the country.
During the U.S. Open, when she was asked by foreign media outlets about her identity, Osaka spoke fondly of Japan, saying she grew up around Japanese culture. Osaka offers a new image of a Japanese person who transcends characterization by language or ethnicity.
She has indicated her aspiration to join the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a member of the Japanese national team. At just 20 years old, Osaka has the potential to become stronger and grow even further.