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AFP
May 23, 2019

Osaka takes Paris in her stride

Sports

AFP
May 23, 2019

PARIS: Twelve months ago at Roland Garros, an embarrassed Naomi Osaka bristled at being hailed as the ‘coolest thing’ in tennis.

Now, however, the 21-year-old Japanese returns to Paris as comfortably the sport’s hottest ticket with the world number one billing, a bank balance bursting at the seams and on the brink of a third successive Grand Slam title.

“The one word that comes to my mind is amazing,” says Osaka’s older sister Mari, a fellow tour player. “I’m really proud of her.”Naomi Osaka was seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time at the 2018 French Open when she made the third round, countering claims she was the ‘coolest thing in tennis’ by asserting she was the sport’s “most awkward person”.

But it was the razzle-dazzle of New York—helped by a mega-meltdown by Serena Williams—which propelled her to a maiden Slam triumph in September. That was backed up by a second major at the Australian Open, her status as the face of the new generation of women’s tennis comfortably confirmed. Osaka, the daughter of a Haitian father and Japanese mother, has since been signed up by Nike in a deal reportedly worth in the region of $10 million a year.

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