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Naomi Osaka gives young fan an Olympic pin after US Open match: ‘Thank you for cheering me on’

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Naomi Osaka is being praised as a role model after giving an Olympic pin to a young fan who was in the stands watching the tennis star’s US Open match.

On Monday, after the 23-year-old won her match against Marie Bouzkova at New York’s Arthur Ashe stadium, she was captured walking up to a young girl who had been cheering her on.

During a post-match interview, which was shared on Twitter by ESPN, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion was asked about the gesture, and she revealed that she had gifted the child a commemorative pin she had been given during her time at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I just heard her when I was playing my match and she was so cute, so thank you for cheering me on,” the Japanese tennis pro told reporters as the cameras zoomed in on the child’s ecstatic reaction.

Osaka then explained that she had given the young fan a pin that Olympians had been given to pass out to other athletes at the games, continuing: “In the Olympics, we got little pins that we were supposed to pass around to other players, you know, like trading pins.

“And I wasn’t there for a long time, so I have a couple in my bag left over. But yeah, I thought it would be like a nice little memory.”

The video of the sweet gesture has since been viewed more than 238,000 times on Twitter, where people have applauded Osaka’s kindness.

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“These are the best moments in sports. A young fan meeting their idol/favourite player. Best part,” one person tweeted.

Another said: “That kid will NEVER forget that feeling. That’s what sport is about.”

The video also prompted a response from a man named Tim Blacksmith who identified himself as the child’s father, and posted a photo of himself and his daughter from the match.

“Dear @naomiosaka, thank you so much for making my daughters first @usopen a truly memorable one,” he wrote alongside the photo. “Much love and blessings.”

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While speaking to reporters post-match, Osaka, who has recently been outspoken about her struggles with mental health, said that her priority is being “happy” with knowing that she did her best in the tournament.

“In this tournament, I just want to be happy with knowing that I did my best and knowing that even though I didn’t play perfect I was able to win a match in two sets. Or if I have to battle, play a match in three sets, know that I made a couple of mistakes, but it’s OK at the end of the day because I’ll learn from the matches that I’ll keep playing,” she said.

The US Open marks Osaka’s first Grand Slam appearance since she withdrew from the French Open in May, with the tennis star explaining at the time that she had made the choice in an effort to prioritise her mental health, and after she had been fined $15,000 for refusing to do press interviews during the tournament.

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