“Reason Why I Started Playing Tennis”: Naomi Osaka Pays Heartfelt Tribute to Sister Mari Osaka

Published 03/24/2021, 6:56 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates winning her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott


Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka has opened up on elder sister Mari Osaka’s retirement from tennis. The current World Number 2, who clinched her second Australian Open title this year, credited her sibling for being the player that she is today.

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Speaking to a press pool ahead of the Miami Open, on Tuesday, the 23-year-old Japanese reaffirmed a statement she made at her first WTA presser at 2014 Stanford.

Naomi Osaka continues to cherish win over sister Mari

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Osaka said that she may have beaten the best in the game, including idol and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, but the win over her sister still ranks as her most cherished.

Tongue firmly in cheek, Osaka said that after being at the receiving end of the defeat most of their childhood, it was nice to get one back over her sibling.

“It’s a special moment to be losing to someone for, like, your whole childhood and then get to beat them,” the Japanese said.

Osaka says she wasn’t entirely taken aback by her sister Mari’s decision to quit tennis

While nothing, in her own words, compares to beating her sister, Osaka was quick to add, “She’s the reason why I started playing tennis.”

She said that though it’s “sad” that Mari had to bid adieu to the game, it wasn’t a decision that took her entirely by surprise.

The reigning US Open champion added that her sister is “so good at so many different things” and she wishes for her to find happiness and success in whatever she chooses to pursue going forward.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her semi final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina

“Of course, it (Mari’s retirement) was a sad moment for our entire family. But it’s something that you could kind of feel coming,” the 23-year-old said.

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The Miami Open will mark Osaka’s return to action since lifting the championship trophy at the Australian Open.

In arguably the toughest match in her title run, Osaka ran into Serena in the last-four clash but was ruthless in the manner in which she went about condemning her to another Grand Slam of despair.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

863 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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