On Friday, Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam final at the US Open after beating American Madison Keys in straight sets 6-2 6-4.
She will now face Serena Williams, whom she considers her idol growing up. On multiple occasions she has also expressed wanting to play against her in the past. To put things into perspective, Osaka was just one year old when Williams won her first Grand Slam in 1999.
They have faced each other once before at the Miami Masters where Osaka won 6-3 6-2.
Irrespective of the result on Saturday, the 20 year old’s life is going to take a spin. Here are the top 5 things about Osaka you probably didn’t know about-
- Early Life
Osaka was born on 16 October 1997 in Osaka, Japan, to a Japanese mother, Tamaki Osaka, and a Haitian father, Leonard “San” François. She graduated from Elmont Alden Terrace Primary and Broward Virtual High School.
She was part of a tennis club called the Harold Solomon Institute , ProWorld Tennis Academy in Florida.
- Dual CitizenAfter being born in Japan, Osaka moved to New York aged three and spent her formative years there before her family relocated to Florida.
As Osaka has dual Japanese and American citizenship, her father made the decision to register her with the Japan Tennis Association when she began her career.
- Turned Pro
She turned pro in September 2013. She made her main-draw WTAtour debut at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic. She faced 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur wherein she came from a set down to defeat the Australian. The match lasted 2 hours 30 minutes.
In her Grand Slam debut in 2016, Osaka reached the third round of the Australian Open as a qualifier by defeating Donna Vekic and Elina Svitolina in straight sets. She lost in the third round to former champion Victoria Azarenka in straight sets.At the French Open, Osaka reached the third round. She defeated the next year champion Jeļena Ostapenko and Mirjana Lučić-Baroni, both in straight sets. She then lost to former finalist Simona Halep in three sets, despite capturing the first set.She also reached the third round at the 2016 US Open, falling to American Madison Keys in three sets.At the 2016 Japan Women’s Open, Osaka reached her first WTA final. She fell was beaten by former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. With this result, Osaka entered the top 50 of the WTA rankings and also signed a worldwide marketing and management agreement with IMG.Osaka won her first title at the BNP Paribas Open by defeating Russian 20th seed Daria Kasatkina in straight sets.
- AwardsDuring the 2015 WTA Finals she won the Rising Stars Invitational exhibition tournament, after defeating Caroline Garcia in the final.Osaka was voted the newcomer of the year at the 2016 WTA Awards owing to her performance in the Grand Slams that year.