For the following 20 minutes, Japan’s first grand slam singles champion opens up about coping with strain, the load of expectation and her want to win the calendar Grand Slam of all 4 tennis majors in the identical yr.
Though Osaka departed Paris on the identical stage a yr in the past, just about every part else in life has modified for this shy 21-year-old.
Her multi cultural background, combined with a strong on-court recreation and excellent outcomes, have turned Osaka into a world famous person in simply 10 months. Her business price has sky rocketed.
$15 million a yr
With the Tokyo Olympics happening in her residence nation subsequent yr, she could also be on the way in which to turning into one of many world’s top-paid feminine athletes.
“The chance is there,” Nigel Currie, a UK-based sponsorship guide, instructed CNN Sport. “Tennis has actually been screaming out for the final 5 – 6 years for somebody to seize the mantle and grow to be the face of girls’s tennis.
“And no person has acquired a greater alternative than Osaka to do it. She’s acquired the sport, she has already gained two grand slams, which is fairly good at her age, and is poised to go from power to power.”
Currie, who has been within the enterprise for greater than three a long time, estimated Osaka might earn as a lot as $15 million a yr from endorsements alone.
‘Craziness got here’
The daughter of a Japanese mom and Haitian-American father, Osaka was born in Japan however moved to New York when she was three years outdated. She now lives in Florida along with her dad and mom, and her older sister Mari, who can be a tennis participant.
The Japanese common public first turned conscious of Osaka in March final yr, when she gained the title in Indian Wells, California, one of many greatest Tour occasions exterior of the 4 majors.
“That was the primary time the place she turned not solely a tennis icon or sports activities icon, however extra like a type of potential famous person,” Akatsuki Uchida, a tennis journalist for Smash Journal in Japan, stated in an interview at Roland Garros.
“After which the US Open got here, and it is impulsively an enormous media circus, craziness got here.”
Though Osaka speaks Japanese, she often solutions questions from Japanese media in English.
“There’ll at all times be individuals who would say in the event you do not communicate Japanese then you aren’t Japanese,” stated Uchida. “However in fact, we do perceive, that at this level, her first language is English. She is the No. 1 and has a number of prospects to do many issues … If she stated one thing in Japanese, and that results in some misunderstanding, it will possibly trigger an enormous downside.”
‘Icon of a brand new era’
Given her multicultural background, it is a signal of the altering instances in Japan.
“Naomi is an icon of a brand new era in Japan, which is extra various,” stated Uchida. “In fact, Japan is getting extra open to overseas international locations.”
‘Loopy psychological power’
In his ebook “Strengthen Your Thoughts: 50 Habits for Psychological Change” Osaka’s former coach Sascha Bajin particulars the hype that surrounded his protege within the nation of her start after her success at Flushing Meadows.
“Inside days of Naomi profitable the US Open, we flew to Tokyo for a match, and per week of craziness,” Bajin writes.
“Virtually as quickly as we landed, Naomi went straight into an enormous press convention, with over 200 media, whereas the general public welcomed her with flowers and open arms. All her sponsors have been going to be there on the match, and I believed that she would really feel strain returning residence to Japan, to play in entrance of her followers.”
Bajin needn’t have nervous: Osaka reached the ultimate.
“As soon as once more, Naomi had proven her capability to cope with strain,” stated Bajin, whose partnership with Osaka ended shortly after the Australian Open.
“The media consideration was massive, and she or he consistently had folks coming as much as her at apply and between matches, however it was nice timing, simply after she had gained her first Grand Slam. Naomi merely liked going residence.”
Fellow Japanese tennis famous person Kei Nishikori additionally hailed Osaka’s “loopy psychological power.”
“She may be very calm, she tries very exhausting,” Nishikori instructed CNN Sport in an interview on the French Open. “And she or he is a really humorous individual.”
Nike historical past
Though Nike allowed Li Na, the primary Chinese language grand slam singles champion, to put on two completely different patches, Osaka is the one one with three.
“Nike are ready to be a bit extra versatile as a result of they clearly see her as an enormous star,” Currie stated.
“Along with her distinctive heritage and background, you would make a case for her as one of many the world’s most international athletes — related on each continent,” Osaka’s agent at administration firm IMG, Stuart Duguid, stated in an electronic mail.
“She performs beneath the Japanese flag and is subsequently a famous person in Asia, she grew up within the US and holds the US Open title, she’s revered in Australia the place she holds one other main title, and in Europe tennis is massive enterprise and on the forefront of sport twice a yr, internet hosting half of tennis’s majors.”
Osaka could also be on a stellar trajectory, however she nonetheless has a “very Japanese essence,” in line with Uchida.
“She may be very all the way down to earth, and the way in which she behaves, like when she bows, that appears actually Japanese,” stated Uchida.
“Each time, even throughout a match, when she will get a towel from a ball boy, she does like that [bows]. She may be very well mannered, she shakes fingers on the internet and she or he at all times does like that [bowing].
“And that exhibits, despite the fact that she grew up in Florida, she undoubtedly has Japanese roots.”