Written by Staff Writer
Naomi Osaka is a talented 16-year-old tennis player from Japan. She is already considered the future of the women’s game.
Her success has led to many major journalists following her progress, with The New York Times visiting her at home in Osaka, in Japan, and recently being excitedly welcomed by her parents.
A transfer to IMG after the junior Australian Open in January this year was also announced, with the Tottori-born player-digy tipped to become the next Andy Murray.
But Naomi isn’t just about the future.
At a time when much of the world’s young talent is mired in urban decay and corruption, she demonstrates a commitment to give back to the communities she grew up in.
Here’s her amazing story in her own words.
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1 / 24 Osaka resides in Osaka, the Japanese city known for its higher turnover rate than any other. Its young professional’s feverish consumption and tax-free existence is largely celebrated in its capital city of Kyoto, and Osaka is no exception. Credit: Getty Images North America/Getty Images
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I spend most of my time playing tennis — I’m currently training in Florida, USA.
My first lesson was when I was just 10 and I had gone with my dad to watch my mom practice. She was playing in the junior event in Japan. I also went to the junior grand slam tournament in Japan and it was amazing!
When I was 15, I started playing junior tournaments in Japan, so I went to training in Milan in Italy and later on in Florida.
I play at the NextGen tournament in New York this year. Next year I have a spot at Wimbledon and then I will try to play at the other grand slams in the future.
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I have been playing junior tournaments since I was 10 years old and I just finished 11 junior tournaments this year. I’m ranked No. 35 in the world in junior tournaments.
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My parents are both originally from Japan, they moved to Japan when I was two. I was born in Japan, then my mom and I moved to the United States at the age of 2 and I’ve been there ever since.
My mom is a clinical psychologist, I was brought up by my grandma in Japan until I was three years old. My mom is Japanese, but we moved to Japan to be close to my dad. We moved back to the United States when I was six years old.
My grandma raised me all that time, and when I was 16 I stayed there with her because I had to go to college for a couple of years. So I moved to Japan, I played junior tournaments all the time and I also played junior tournaments when I was six.
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My grandma is super sweet — she helped me so much in Japan. She still took me with her to eat things, she always told me that I should learn new things.
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Her house was very small, and it smelled really bad, so I was always smelling bad too. She was a really fun grandma.
I moved to the United States and for a long time I was in the house by myself. I didn’t really talk to people, I had my tea and my dog. When I was seven I moved back to Japan with my grandma so she was very nice. When I was six years old I left Japan to go to the US.
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Every year I get back home to Japan to have a few days of playing against other tournaments. I was staying with my mom, and at the time my grandma was really sick so I was doing school too. But now I’m at my grandma’s.
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I love it back home. When I was younger my mom couldn’t really drive so she just gave up when I was seven. I don’t have my own car yet.
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Before I came to the US I lived in Italy for six years. I was living in Milan with my grandma for three years. I liked the US more than Italy because I felt like I could find a lot of people like me and the people were a lot happier there. I also got to know a lot of different foods. I like meat and I love fish.
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I’m going to go back to the US next month to live and train there for a while. My hope is that I can become No. 1 in the world.