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5 Things to Know About Naomi Osaka

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EJ Stewart
EJ Stewart
Elijah Stewart is an associate producer for NY1, Founder & Host on Nu Generation Media & Podcast Network and Sports Editor of TheHub.News
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Naomi Osaka, who made history on Saturday winning her first Grand Slam, 6-2, 6-4, over Serena Williams at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, is the first Japanese player to win a major in the Open Era. The 20-year-old, defeated her childhood idol who has won 23 Grand Slam titles including six U.S. Open wins, in a match mired by controversy. But none of that takes away from her play and the grace she showed in victory.

Here are five things you should know about Osaka.

Her father is Haitian

Her mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian. To make their lives easier while living in Japan, Osaka and her older sister were given their mom’s maiden name.

“When I go to Japan people are confused,” she told USA Today. “From my name, they don’t expect to see a black girl.”

Osaka’s dad, Leonard Francois, introduced her to the game of tennis at the age of 3. Around the same time, her family moved from Japan to the U.S.—eventually settling in Florida so Osaka could play tennis full-time.

When Osaka became a teenager, Francois decided she would represent her native Japan in competition—despite spending most of her life in America.

When speaking to the New York Times about the move, Osaka said her dad made the decision because “I grew up around my mom and I have a lot of Japanese relatives.”

But she also says visits to her native Japan can still be awkward. Osaka, who is also a dual U.S. citizen, also says her connection to the country is complex.

“I don’t necessarily feel like I’m American,” she told the Times. “I wouldn’t know what that feels like.”

Osaka bows to her fans after matches to honor her Japanese heritage. She says she understands the language, but doesn’t speak Japanese.

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