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Who Is Naomi Osaka? 7 Things to Know About the U.S. Open Winner

The tennis superstar made headlines for her stunning win against Serena Williams on Sunday.
IMAGE Peter Menzel / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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All of tennis was abuzz this weekend when newcomer Naomi Osaka won against Serena Williams at the U.S. Open Women’s final. Much has been said about the controversial match, but only a few have been centered on Osaka’s historic victory.

Here’s what you need to know about the tennis superstar:

SHE’S ONLY 20 YEARS OLD.

She turned professional in September 2013 at 16 years old. After, she defeated Alla Kudryavtseva and Petra Martic during the 2014 Bank of the West Classic. Since then, she’s been making a serious name for herself.

SHE’S PART HAITIAN, PART JAPANESE.

Born to a Japanese mother, Tamaki Osaka, and a Haitian father, Leonard François, the budding tennis star faced a lot of challenges in racially homogeneous Japan: starting with her grandfather. When Osaka’s maternal grandfather found out that she was involved with a black man, their relationship became estranged and remained so for over 10 years.

Though Osaka officially represents Japan, being biracial, she says she represents Japan, Haiti, and the U.S. She previously said in an interview: “Of course, I am really honored to be playing for Japan. And my dad’s side is Haitian. So… represent!”

HER SISTER, MARI, IS A PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER TOO.

Osaka and her older sister, Mari, grew up playing tennis and they’ve played in doubles tournaments together. The sisters are frequently compared to Serena and Venus Williams with some stories even stating that they could be the next ultimate tennis duo.

HER SERVE HIT A RECORD AT THE 2016 U.S. OPEN.

Osaka has been described as a strong player. In 2016, Serena Williams remarked, “I have seen her play. She’s really young and really aggressive. She’s a really good, talented player.” She added, “She’s very dangerous.” The same year, her serve hit a record with the speed of 125 miles per hour (200 km/h). A number that only nine female tennis players have topped in the game’s history.

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IT’S ALWAYS BEEN HER DREAM TO PLAY AGAINST SERENA.

Serena Williams has always been kind of a childhood idol to the tennis superstar. “When I was a little kid I always dreamed I would play Serena in a Grand Slam final,” Osaka tells the BBC. Ahead of Sunday’s match, she even left a sweet message for Williams saying, “I love you.”

SHE’S FACED BOTH OF THE WILLIAMS SISTERS BEFORE.

Osaka’s dream became a reality when she faced Serena at the Miami Open. The match, however, was just months after Williams almost died after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia. Previously, she played Venus Williams in the third round at Wimbledon after which she shared a photo on Instagram with the caption: “When you accomplish one of your dreams”

SHE MADE HISTORY JUST BY REACHING A GRAND SLAM SINGLES FINAL.

When Osaka played against Madison Keys last year, she became the first time a female Japanese tennis player to make it to a tennis Grand Slam final. This year, she made history a second time at the U.S. Open as her victory was the first time a Japanese tennis player won a Grand Slam singles tournament.

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Paolo Chua
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