Haitian American Sports

Meet Haitian-Japanese US Open Champ Naomi Osaka Tennis Pro Sister Mari Osaka

Naomi and Mari Osaka

A couple of weeks ago, defending champion Angelique Kerber was knocked out in round one of the US Open by Haitian-Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka. The victory marked Osaka’s first top 10 wins of her career.

Naomi who has long been picked to be the ‘next Serena Williams’ has a little more in common with her idol and her professional tennis player sister Venus. Naomi’s older sister Mari Osaka also plays professionally.

Brooke Marine of W Magazine wrote of the Osaka sisters, “Now, the Osaka sisters follow in the footsteps of Venus and Serena Williams, as two young sisters who are making waves in the field of professional tennis, and crushing their competition both on the court and on social media.”

To make the comparison even stronger, the Osaka sisters’ father, Leonard Francois, has cited Richard Williams as his idol for coaching. “The blueprint was already there,” Francois told The New York Times. “I just had to follow it.”

Mari Osaka, 22, was born in Osaka, Japan to a Haitian father, Leonard Francois, and a Japanese mother. Her father was born in Haiti and went to college at NYU before moving to Japan, where he met and married her mother. Her family moved to the United States when she was young, and she grew up there. Osaka speaks both English and Japanese and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Osaka Family Photo Source: Instagram

Naomi and Mari Osaka reportedly took the last name of their mother, Tamaki Osaka, instead of their father, as a “practical matter” for the early years spent in Japan. Both of the Osaka sisters represent the country of Japan rather than the U.S., a decision that was reportedly due to the increased availability of funding by Japan.

Naomi, Mari, and mom Tamaki Osaka

Naomi and Mari Osaka reportedly took the last name of their mother, Tamaki Osaka, instead of their father, as a “practical matter” for the early years spent in Japan. Both of the Osaka sisters represent the country of Japan rather than the U.S., a decision that was reportedly due to the increased availability of funding by Japan.

Mari Osaka
Mari Osaka

Osaka made her Women Tennis Association tour debut at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic, in the doubles event partnering Marina Shamayko, losing in the first round to Varvara Lepchenko and Ajla Tomljanović.

Osaka has a WTA singles career high ranking of 367. Her career high doubles ranking of 1214 was achieved on 27 July 2015 and her career-high ranking of #280 was earned in 2017.

Like tennis superstar sisters Serena and Venus Williams, the Haitian-Japanese sisters are very close and sometimes compete together. On September 20th, Naomi Osaka and Mari Osaka of Japan competed against Makoto Ninomiya of Japan and Renata Voracova of Czech Republic during women’s doubles matchday three of the Toray Pan Pacific Open Tennis At Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan.

Photo Source: Zimbio.com

Naomi has cited her greatest motivation as a young player was to beat her sister Mari.  To The New York Times, Naomi said that her father made the sisters hit thousands of balls every day, and she didn’t really like playing tennis as a young child. But she did like beating her sister.  The New York Times notes that it took 12 years for Naomi to become better than her sister.

Photo Source: Zimbio.com
Photo Source: Zimbio.com

Updated: September 15, 2018

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