Naomi Osaka has confirmed she will compete for Japan in the 2021 Summer Olympics, which will coincidentally be held in Tokyo. The 23-year-old tennis player was born in Japan, but she was raised in the United States. As a dual citizen, Osaka was required under Japan's Nationality Law to choose one before she turned 22. That means Osaka will be relinquishing her US citizenship to represent her birthplace in the sporting event.
"It's definitely going to be very special. I think there's no other place that I'd rather play my first Olympics of course," Osaka told NHK World-Japan in an interview in 2019. "I think that it will be one of the most memorable things that will ever happen to me."
After a stellar year, this will mark Osaka's first time competing in the Olympics. She drew national attention when she defeated Serena Williams to win the 2018 US Open, subsequently making her the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. At the 2019 US Open, Osaka showed off her exemplary sportsmanship when she delivered a speech praising her opponent Coco Gauff.
Adding to her list of accomplishments, she went on to win the 2020 US Open. In 2021, she was headed for the French Open but pulled out of press conferences to take care of her mental health. She then ended up withdrawing after the French Open fined her for not attending the press conferences. Continuing to take care of her mental health and spend time with loved ones, Osaka withdrew from Wimbledon in mid-June. After this period of rest, we look forward to watching her shine both on and off the court at the Games starting July 23.
To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23 on NBC.
- Additional reporting by Angelica Wilson