Another Tennis Player Follows in Footsteps of Naomi Osaka at Tokyo Paralympics 2020

Published 08/24/2021, 1:07 PM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – July 23, 2021. Naomi Osaka of Japan carries the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony REUTERS/Hannah Mckay


Lighting the Olympic flame ranks among the most prestigious events of an athlete’s career. Last month, Naomi Osaka got the honor of lighting the flame during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. Two weeks after the Games concluded, the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games took place earlier today.

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And another Japanese tennis star lit the flame for the 12-day event, Yui Kamiji.

After Naomi Osaka, Yui Kamiji lights the Olympic flame at the Paralympic Games

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Osaka withdrew from the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships earlier this year. However, she returned to the Games last month, where she lit the Olympic flame before taking part in the Games. Despite her World No. 2 status, the 23-year-old suffered a shock loss to Marketa Vondrousova in the third round.

Like Osaka, Kamiji enters the Paralympic Games as the World No. 2 in the women’s singles category. However, unlike Osaka, she is also the World No. 2 in the women’s doubles category. She made her debut in the Paralympics nine years ago in London, following which she has risen to the top of the game.

In the Rio Paralympics, she was the flag bearer for Japan’s contingent. This year, the 27-year-old took it a step further as the honor of lighting the flame was bestowed upon her. While she won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, her achievements in major tournaments are astounding.

In the singles category, Kamiji has eight Grand Slam victories. Among those eight are four French Open titles, two Australian Open titles and two US Open titles. However, her doubles achievements surpass those of her singles career.

Having Jordanne Whiley as her teammate since 2014, the Japanese has 17 Grand Slam victories. In 2014, the pair won all four Grand Slam tournaments to mark one of their most impressive years.

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Can Osaka defend her US Open title?

With the Olympics behind her, the 23-year-old now turns her attention to Flushing Meadows. Although she suffered a shock loss to Jil Teichmann at the Cincinnati Open, she’s still the defending champion of the US Open this year.

Aug 19, 2021; Mason, OH, USA; Naomi Osaka (JPN) reacts during a match against Jil Teichmann (SUI) during the Western and Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

With her competition including players like Ashleigh Barty, Osaka might struggle to emulate her success of last year. However, her reputation on hard courts makes her a fearsome prospect in Flushing Meadows, irrespective of her recent form.

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WATCH STORY: Naomi Osaka’s Best Moments at Australian Open 2021: From Saving Match Points to Lifting the Title

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Sanket Nair

624 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management graduate, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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