Naomi Osaka Names Serena Williams and Usain Bolt as Her Role Models

Published 03/12/2021, 9:21 AM EST
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


While she may be well on her way to charting her own path to greatness in women’s tennis, Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka has opened up on the contemporary legends that she looks up to for inspiration. Following up on her US Open title last year, the current World Number 2 lifted the Australian Open trophy this year.

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Osaka says one can draw from one’s role models to be better at their craft

To a question on whether she has role models in her life, the 23-year-old Osaka told Vogue, Mexico that there are, in fact, quite a few that she draws motivation from.

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Underlining the importance of having role models, the Japanese said that there’s plenty to learn from their success stories and use that to fulfill one’s own potential. “Having many role models is great because you can extract traits from each of them and build your own ideal,” Osaka said.

(Quotes have been translated with Google Translate)

Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 20, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina

While she has made no secret of her avowed admiration for 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, the Japanese said that sprint legend and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, who is nicknamed the fastest man on earth, is also someone she “really” admires.

Serena was one of the biggest influencers in Osaka’s early years in tennis, and Osaka’s father decided to put her in the game after watching the American in action.

Naomi Osaka labels her family as her “number one influence”

While Serena and Osaka share great camaraderie off the court, it doesn’t take from their fierce rivalry on it. To illustrate the same, Osaka put an agonizing end to the 39-year-old’s campaign in the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open.

In what was only their second meeting in a Grand Slam, and the Japanese overpowered Serena in straight sets to send her crashing out of another Grand Slam and prolong her wait for the 24th career title that will put her on level with Margaret Court’s record tally.

While describing her family as her “number one influence”, Osaka said, “I really admire Usain Bolt and Serena Williams.”

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Osaka also considers departed NBA legend Kobe Bryant as her mentor and often sports a Los Angeles Lakers jersey, the team that the basketball stalwart represented during his playing career, to show her love for him.

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Buoyed by the victory against Serena at Melbourne Park, the Japanese lifted her game a notch higher in the big final and pulverized American Jennifer Brady in straight sets to lift the Aus Open crown for the second time in her career.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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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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