Naomi Osaka player profile
Naomi Osaka is one of the biggest names in world tennis and our player profile will tell you everything you need to know about the star from Japan.
After turning professional in September 2013, when she was still just a 15-year-old, Osaka incredibly became a Grand Slam champion within five years by winning the 2018 US Open.
That triumph made her the first Japanese player ever, male or female, to win a tennis major.
She has attracted huge attention from the world's media ever since and become one of the WTA Tour's most heavily scrutinised and marketable players, all of which intensified when she climbed to the top of the world rankings in 2019.
Our player profile on Naomi Osaka runs through her career to date.
(Updated in November 2019)
Age and family background
When and where was Naomi Osaka born?
Osaka was born on October 16, 1997.
She was born in Japan. Her place of birth is Chuo-ku in the city of Osaka.
By population, Osaka is Japan's third biggest city behind the capital, Tokyo, and Yokohama.
How old is Naomi Osaka?
She is 22 years old.
What is Naomi Osaka's height?
Osaka is 1.80 metres tall, which equates to five foot, 11 inches (5"11).
What is Naomi Osaka's family background?
Osaka's mother is Japanese and her father is from Haiti. Her parents, Tamaki Osaka and Leonard Francois, met on the island of Hokkaido, where Tamaki was from. Leonard was a college student in New York prior to meeting her. They had moved to Osaka before Naomi's birth.
The children were given their mother's maiden name, which was also the name of their home city, for practical reasons while living in Japan, and kept that after their move to the States.
The parents' relationship caused tension on Tamaki's side of the family. A New York Times feature detailed how it was kept secret for years and, once revealed when Tamaki's father pushed for an arranged marriage with a Japanese man, caused a family feud that lasted over a decade.
Naomi Osaka has an older sister Mari, who also plays professional tennis. The two trained together growing up and constantly honed their skills playing with and against one another.
But Mari has not achieved the same success and has a career-high ranking is 280. As professionals, they briefly competed together in doubles.
Mari was initially seen as the stronger prospect and Naomi revealed much of her motivation at a young age came from trying to become good enough to beat her sister rather than an enjoyment of hitting and training.
When they played full sets, Naomi explained Mari would usually win 6-0. It took Naomi 12 years to beat her sister, which she hailed as a watershed moment.
Naomi reflected in 2019: "I don't know what happened, something finally clicked in my head, but for sure she was beating me until I was 15, it was ridiculous! In the win-loss category, she's still up by a million."
After a growth spurt in her teens, Naomi soon became taller and stronger than her sister and developed more quickly from there, while Mari was also unfortunate with injuries.
It was their father who coached them early in their childhood after moving his family to the States. Despite not being a tennis expert, Leonard had been inspired by how Richard Williams had guided Venus and Serena to unprecedented success.
Where was she brought up?
After being born in Japan, Osaka moved to the United States at the age of three. The family initially lived in Long Island, New York, with her Haitian grandparents. By the age of nine, she was living in Florida, a move taken to focus on her and Mari's tennis development.
They trained in the day on public courts and were home-schooled at night, an approach initially disapproved of by their maternal grandparents back in Japan, even as family relations eventually began to improve, though they would later be won over after Naomi's success.
As teenagers, they began playing on the pro satellite tours and Osaka began receiving professional training at a variety of tennis academies.
Where does she live now?
Osaka lives in Boca Raton, Florida, United States.
Is Naomi Osaka married?
No, she is not married and does not yet have children.
Which nation does Osaka represent in tennis?
Osaka represents Japan. Her father decided while his daughters were still young that he wanted them to represent the country of their birth. He explained they had been born in Osaka, brought up in a multi-cultural household and "felt Japanese".
Leonard insisted it was not a financial decision nor one influenced by tennis governing bodies. Japanese media, though, have regularly reported that the interest, support and funding provided by the JTA at a young age was very helpful to the family.
The USTA, in contrast, did not show as much interest in Osaka in her younger teenage years and were slow off the mark until they eventually tried to offer her training at the national center when she was 16. But by then she had already played on the WTA Tour and declined the offer.
What is her playing style?
Osaka is a right-handed player, who has a two-handed backhand. She plays with power, looking to dominate with her quick serves and groundstrokes. The WTA Tour describe her as "an aggressive baseliner", whose favourite shot is her forehand.
Who is Osaka's inspiration in tennis?
Speaking as an 18-year-old in January 2016, Osaka told USA Today: "I was really impressed by her and wanted to play like her when I was little. Well, I hope I'm starting to play like her now."
At that point, Osaka was telling reporters of her goal to break into the top 100, but Serena was already impressed and had spotted a potential star, saying: "I have seen her play. She's really young and really aggressive. She's a really good, talented player. Very dangerous."
Inside three years, the American had been more than proven right and the two were facing off in an infamous US Open final.
Grand Slam and WTA Tour record
How many Grand Slam titles has Naomi Osaka won?
Osaka has won two Grand Slam titles.
The majors she has won are:
- 1x US Open (2018)
- 1x Australian Open (2019)
What is her record in Grand Slam finals?
Osaka has won on both of her appearances in a Grand Slam final. Her record is 2-0.
Grand Slam record by event
Osaka has a 13-3 record at the Australian Open, which she won in 2019 to become the first player since Jennifer Capriati (2001) to win her first two Grand Slams in consecutive majors. Osaka won a tense final against Petra Kvitova in three sets.
The Australian Open's official YouTube channel has posted extended highlights of her final victory, which we have listed below.
As well as her dramatic win over Kvitova, Osaka had also needed a deciding set to defeat another Czech player, Karolina Pliskova, in the semis, plus she was taken the distance twice more in the earlier rounds.
The event was her fourth appearance in the main draw and her hard-earned title was the first time she made it past the last-16 stage in Melbourne.
Osaka has played the French Open four times and is yet to make it beyond the third round, with an overall record of 6-4.
Her worst Grand Slam so far has been Wimbledon, with a 4-3 match record to her name. The lowest moment was when Osaka, as second seed, suffered a straight sets first-round exit in 2019 against Yulia Putintseva on Centre Court.
Osaka's US Open 2018 victory is covered in detail later in this profile. The defence of her title saw her reach the fourth round in 2019 before being beaten by Belinda Bencic, a creditable performance given she had come into the event carrying a knee injury.
She had reached the third round in her 2016 and 2017 appearances, making her total record an impressive 14-3.
How many WTA Tour titles has Naomi Osaka won?
She has won five career titles, a total which includes her two Grand Slams.
Two of Osaka's first three titles were majors, meaning she initially had won more Grand Slams than regular WTA Tour events - a rare feat and one which, over time, was likely to change given the greater frequency of the other tournaments.
Listed in the order she won them for the first time, her WTA Tour titles are:
- 1x Indian Wells Open (2018)
- 1x US Open (2018)
- 1x Australian Open (2019)
- 1x Pan Pacific Open (2019)
- 1x China Open (2019)
Number of WTA Tour finals
Osaka has reached a total of seven WTA Tour finals. Her record in showpiece matches is 5-2.
The finals she has lost on the WTA Tour are:
- 2x Pan Pacific Open (2016 & 2018)
The two finals she has lost both came in the same tournament, the Pan Pacific Open, which is a WTA Premier event played in her home country of Japan. She lost to Caroline Wozniacki in 2016 and Karolina Pliskova in 2018, both defeats coming in straight sets. Osaka finally won on home soil in 2019, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final.
All seven of the finals she has reached have been in hard-court events.
Osaka's WTA titles won by year
WTA Tour finals reached by year
Her history in the tennis world rankings
She reached world number one for the first time after winning the Australian Open in 2019, becoming the first Asian player, male or female, to top the singles rankings.
A 21-week stint at the top ended when Osaka lost top spot to Ashleigh Barty just before Wimbledon, but she reclaimed first position in August 2019.
Barty once again moved into first place just four weeks later and the Australian held the position until the end of the year.
Osaka has not yet achieved the status of year-end number one. Her best year-end ranking so far has been number 3, achieved in 2019.
Here are Osaka's official year-end rankings, as per the WTA's website:
Osaka's rise to prominence
The rise of Naomi Osaka: Early WTA Tour career
Osaka made her mark immediately on the WTA Tour. Having made multiple attempts to qualify for a main draw, she reached her first full tournament at the Stanford Classic in 2014 and swiftly began making waves.
Ranked 406 in the world and aged just 16, she had never won a match even in qualifying at the WTA level before this event. However, she pulled off a stunning upset in the first round, defeating Samantha Stosur, the world number 19.
Osaka won 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5, saving a match point in the second set. She said afterwards: "It's probably the second-best win of my life, the first being when I first beat my sister!
"I don't know anyone who goes into a match thinking they don't deserve to be here, and I think I do deserve to be here."
After being unable to qualify for Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, she reached her first Grand Slam and made a huge mark at the 2016 Australian Open.
Aged 18, having won three qualifying matches to get there, she won her first-round match against Donna Vekic in straight sets, a first victory in a match at a major.
Better still, she then recorded the biggest win over her career to date by beating number 18 seed Elina Svitolina, also in straight sets.
She lost convincingly in the third round against Victoria Azarenka, partly due to an abdominal injury, but left the tournament with her place as one of the game's rising stars no longer in question.
At the French Open that year, she again beat a seed in Jelena Ostapenko, an achievement that looked even better the following year when the Latvian was crowned Roland Garros champion.
Simona Halep, another future French Open winner, beat Osaka in the third round, edging the final set of a close contest.
She missed Wimbledon through injury but made it three third-round Grand Slam appearances for the year at the US Open and so nearly got further, only to lose a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Madison Keys.
Before the year was out, she made her first WTA Tour final at the Pan Pacific Open, where she lost to Wozniacki.
At the end of a 2016 season where she had come from relative obscurity to become a recognised figure, she was named as WTA Newcomer of the Year.
The 2017 season was a slight disappointment in terms of Osaka not making the next step, with no finals or notable runs at tournaments, though she did consolidate her place as a regular on tour and recorded a couple of notable victories.
She beat defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round of the US Open, her first win over a top-10 player, shortly after reaching the third round in her Wimbledon debut before losing to Venus Williams in two close sets. She would go on to beat Venus in Hong Kong later that year.
But if 2017 had not quite met expectations, 2018 was going to surpass her wildest dreams.
Sascha Bajin was brought in as coach and she reached her first-ever Grand Slam fourth round at the Australian Open to start the year with a bang. Barty was among the players she defeated, with eventual runner-up Halep once again the player to end her major hopes.
Her first WTA Tour title soon followed at the Indian Wells Open, a premier mandatory event just one level down from the majors.
Having beaten Maria Sharapova in the first round, Osaka dropped only one set in seven matches at Indian Wells.
She saw off Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals and beat Halep in the last four with a stunning 6-3 6-0 result, the first time she had beaten Halep and also her first win over a player ranked number one in the world, as the Romanian was at the time. Osaka beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-2 in the final and became the youngest winner at the tournament for a decade.
A major milestone came the following week when she faced idol Serena Williams for the first time in Miami and won, with the veteran having only recently returned from maternity leave.
She had to settle for third-round appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon in 2018, losing to Keys in Paris and eventual champion Kerber in England. But the US Open, and her rise to superstardom, was only just around the corner.
US Open 2018: Controversial final
How did Naomi Osaka win the US Open in 2018?
After a superb run to the final that saw her drop just one set in six matches and included her avenging the previous two Grand Slam defeats to Keys with a win in the last four, Osaka took on Serena Williams.
Incredibly, she defeated her idol 6-2 6-4 in the final.
Unfortunately, the match and her incredible achievement was overshadowed by a major controversy.
What happened with Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final?
Serena, then 36, was looking to tie Margaret Court's Grand Slam singles record of 24 crowns, but the 20-year-old from Japan stunned her in 79 minutes.
Sadly for Osaka, a sensational victory in the final against her inspiration was marred by, and will be remembered for, an angry feud between Serena and Portuguese chair umpire Carlos Ramos.
The affair led to the frustrated American fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium loudly booing during the trophy presentation. It left both Osaka and Williams in tears.
Three code violations had been called against Williams. They had been handed down for coaching, racket abuse and verbal abuse, costing her a warning, then a point and then a full game.
Serena branded Ramos "a liar" and a "thief", demanding an apology. She also protested to the event referee during the match, suggesting she was being treated differently to male players who had committed the same offences.
How did it all unfold?
A confident Osaka, who had said before the match that the chance to face Serena had inspired her during the semi-final win over Keys, claimed the first set 6-2 courtesy of two breaks. It had all been relatively routine with no sign of the controversy that was to come.
In the second game of the second set, the fiercely debated events started. Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou was seen making hand movements, just as his player appeared to look toward her box. Ramos called a code violation for coaching.
Whether Serena had seen the move or not, by the letter of the law a coaching code violation was correct. Mouratoglou later explained to ESPN: "When I did this motion, I felt like 'Serena is in trouble'.
"I felt a lot of emotion because it's such a big match for her. And I want to help, that's my job to help her. So I do a motion that she doesn't even see, actually. But that's why I do a motion. Yeah, it's coaching.
"Yes [it was the first time I ever did it] because I felt it was an important moment, probably one of the biggest moments of her career. She was in a Grand Slam final to equal the record of all times and she's losing.
"I feel at that moment she's lost on the court. So I try to help her. That's my job."
Serena protested to Ramos: "I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose. If he's giving me a thumbs up, he's telling me to come on. We don't have any code, and I know you don't know that, and I understand why you thought that was coaching but I'm telling you it's not."
Coaching from the stands was commonly seen from other coaches in the game and not consistently penalised, while not everyone involved, including seemingly Serena, were aware of how the rule worked, two issues that intensified the initial controversy.
Mouratoglou claimed Osaka's then coach Sascha Bajin had been making signals throughout and says it went on from "100% of coaches in 100% of matches".
Serena had a further exchange with Ramos at the changeover discussing the coaching penalty and the pair appeared to agree to disagree. Serena seemed to have found new motivation as she moved 3-1 ahead, but would win only one more game from that point on.
The veteran player smashed her racket when Osaka brought it back to 3-2. That earned her a second code violation and lost her a point, but she had not initially heard the call, prompting her to approach the umpire chair asking why she was starting the next game 15-0 down. She called the situation "unbelievable" and related it to past issues she had encountered at the US Open, saying "every time I play here I have problems".
She also demanded that Ramos should make an announcement to say she did not receive coaching and apologise, vowing she had never cheated in her career.
When Osaka won another two games to go 4-3 up, there was another heated exchange between Serena and Ramos at the change of ends, and this is where she called him "a liar" and "a thief", arguing he had stolen a point from her and attacked her character. The umpire immediately handed down a third code violation, giving Osaka a game, a penalty that is rarely seen, and a 5-3 lead that put her on the brink of the title.
Serena initially protested to Ramos and then called over the tournament referee Brian Earley and WTA Supervisor Donna Kelso to state her case.
Osaka soon wrapped up the 6-2 6-4 victory. In the days after the match, Serena was fined a total of $17,000 for each of the three code violations and the ITF backed Ramos' decisions in the match. Serena, though, felt there had been double standards and that a man would not have received the same penalties.
How did Osaka react and what did she say?
After an unreturned serve sealed victory, Osaka smiled and looked emotional, though did not begin a dramatic celebration.
Osaka shared a hug with Williams at the side of the net, but the American would not shake hands with Ramos and again told him she was owed an apology.
As the spectators booed Ramos on his way off the court, Osaka embraced her team but did not acknowledge the crowd. She sat at her bench and hid her face with a towel. The booing then intensified once more during the trophy presentation, which Ramos did not attend, and Osaka shielded her face again, this time with her hat, and wept next to Williams, who put her arm around the Japanese star.
Having initially consoled Osaka, Serena then became emotional in her on-court interview, saying: "I don't want to be rude. I don't want to do questions or interrupt [the moment]. She played well. This is her first Grand Slam. I know you [the fans] were rooting and I was too but let's make this the best moment we can, we'll get through it. Credit where it is due, let's not boo anymore. Let's be positive and get through this. Congratulations Naomi, no more booing!"
This changed the mood in the stadium, as the fans began to enthusiastically applaud Serena and Osaka, as the American runner-up went on to thank her team and the spectators.
Fighting back tears again, Osaka addressed the crowd, saying: "I'm sorry. I know that everyone was cheering for her, and I'm sorry that it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match. Thank you.
"My mum has sacrificed a lot for me, and it means a lot for her to come and watch my matches. She doesn't normally do that. All that we're missing is my dad but he physically doesn't watch my matches. He just walks around so I'll see him later."
She then turned to her beaten opponent and said: "It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals, so I'm really glad that I was able to do that. I'm really grateful that I was able to play with you. Thank you."
Reflecting on the win the following month, Osaka discussed her mixed feelings about how the final would be remembered.
She said: "For me, the memory of the US Open is a little bit bittersweet.
"Right after, the day after, I really didn't want to think about it because it wasn't necessarily the happiest memory for me. I just sort of wanted to move on at that point.
"Of course I'm happy that I won a Grand Slam, I don't think there's anything that can take away from that, but I feel like it was so strange, I didn't just want to think about it.
"I wanted to just push it to the side."
Does Naomi Osaka play doubles?
No, at the moment she does not play doubles on the WTA Tour.
She played that version of the sport on Tour briefly as a young player, but did not have much success. Her career record reads two wins and 14 defeats. She never made it past the second round of a Grand Slam and did not win a doubles title during that brief stint.
Focusing on singles seems to have been a successful strategy.
However, Osaka has played doubles at team events like the Fed Cup and the Hopman Cup. At the 2019 US Open, Osaka was asked about the prospect of playing mixed doubles with Kei Nishikori at the 2020 Olympic Games.
She replied: "Yeah, so the thing is anyone that knows my doubles track record knows that I'm down!
"So the thing is I would play. I would definitely play with him. I just would actually need to practice doubles for the first time in my life because you cannot play mixed doubles with Kei Nishikori and lose in the first round of the Olympics in Tokyo.
"I would cry. I would actually cry for losing a doubles match.
"Yeah, I definitely think that would be so historic in a way and I would love to do it, but I need to practice my doubles."
Prize money and social media
How much prize money has Naomi Osaka won in her tennis career?
At the end of the 2019 season, Osaka's career prize money earned was $14,417,479.
That relates solely to prizes earned through on-court performance and does not factor in endorsements, appearance fees, business activities or any other form of income.
Forbes found she earned an astonishing $24.3m between June 2018 and June 2019, of which $16m came in the form of endorsements, around double that of her earnings from on-court results over that 12-month spell.
Her total earnings across that period were second only to Serena Williams ($29.2m). Forbes wrote: "Osaka's accomplishments, youth, skill and multicultural appeal make her a marketer's dream."
Serena, Li Na and Maria Sharapova were the only previous female tennis players to earn more than $20m in a year.
What tennis racket brand does Naomi Osaka use?
Osaka uses a Yonex tennis racket and has done throughout her career.
Which tennis clothing brand endorses Naomi Osaka?
Osaka previously worse Adidas clothing but signed a lucrative deal with Nike in 2019.
Her earnings are predicted to increase further over the next year, with some of the factors credited as her new agreement with Nike and the Olympic Games coming to Tokyo in 2020, which will create huge commercial opportunities.
Is Naomi Osaka on social media?
Osaka has around 500,000 followers on her Twitter account, 1.1 million on Instagram and around 150,000 likes on Facebook.
Where can I find out more about Naomi Osaka?
As you would expect, she is heavily covered all over the internet as well as on television and in other news publications all over the world.
Some useful resources are:
Naomi Osaka's website
Her WTA Tour official profile
Osaka's Wikipedia page
If you enjoyed our player profile on Naomi Osaka, you may wish to look at the others we will be producing for the top stars in world tennis and other sports over the coming months here at Sport Solved.
Bianca Andreescu's player profile can be found here.
We will also have profiles of all the major tournaments and some articles answering the most common questions asked about sport.