Naomi Osaka Has Big Dreams For Tokyo Olympics: ‘It Would Mean The World To Me To Bring Home A Gold In Japan’
Naomi Osaka may be skipping Wimbledon, but she has big dreams for the Tokyo Olympics.
Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, wants to win singles gold at the Games to inspire a younger generation. Tennis runs July 24-Aug. 1 at the Olympics.
“It would honestly mean the world to me to bring home a gold in Japan,” Osaka, 23, told BusinessInsider.com. “I think it would take some time to fully sink in, but to be able to win a gold on my country’s soil, knowing the youngest generation is watching – it makes me emotional to know I have the opportunity to make an entire generation inspired and an entire country proud.”
The Olympics will be played on hard courts, where Osaka has won all four of her majors, and six-time Grand Slam champion Mat Wilander thinks Osaka will be back better than ever in Tokyo.
“The Olympics are being played on her best surface, back home,” Wilander told EuroSport. “It will inspire a generation of new athletes in Japan and I completely agree with her decision to skip Wimbledon and to be ready for the Olympics.
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“I think that she has to think about the consequences of her presence on social media and I guess she will learn from this experience more than we can imagine. So, I expect her to come back stronger than ever when she’s back on the hard courts.”
Earlier this month, Forbes identified Osaka as the highest-paid female athlete of all time. She won 15 straight Grand Slam matches before withdrawing ahead of her second-round match in Paris.
In October 2019, a week before turning 22, Osaka gave up her U.S. citizenship to represent Japan in the Summer Olympics. The Games were then pushed back a year due to the pandemic.
“I have never competed in an Olympic Games before, but I can say, as an athlete, I’m excited to be competing in the most prestigious athletic event in the world,” Osaka told Insider. “Like most competitors, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity my entire life, and the fact that they are being held in my birthplace of Japan, I just feel like I can’t stop smiling about it.”
It’s unclear how she will handle media requirements in Tokyo, or at future events like the U.S. Open, where she is the defending champion, but she knows there will be pressure to perform on the court at the Olympics.
“You have to mentally prepare for these large-scale moments,” she said, “and there are a lot of pressures associated with the Olympics because your country is looking up to you.”