Naomi Osaka has gone through a major transformation both on and off the court. The 23-year-old who was once timid in front of cameras and press, is now using her voice to address racial injustices and more.

Fresh off her Australian Open win last month, Osaka recently was named Glamour UK's Sports Gamechanger of the Year. She is also the covergirl for the Gamechanger's March issue of the magazine.

It was just two years ago when she defeated the sport's icon Serena Williams in the final of the 2018 US Open. Now, Osaka has four major titles under her belt and she's also the highest paid female athlete in the world according to Forbes. Between 2019 and 2020, she raked in $37.4 million.


The list of brand endorsements alone is worthy of the "Gamechanger" title. Osaka is currently endorsed by Nike, Louis Vuitton, Mastercard, Beats By Dre, Playstation and Nissan, just to name a few. Although she told Glamour she doesn't feel all that different from back in 2018, she does feel more confident and overall very proud of her accomplishments.

“I don’t feel that different,” Osaka told Glamour. “But I do feel more confident and prouder of myself that all of my hard work starting from the age of three paid off. I think the moment you win a Grand Slam, there is more pressure on you to perform so that is challenging, but I’m always excited to walk into those high-pressure matches knowing I can prove myself time after time.”

In the digital feature, Osaka opens up about why she decided to step out of her comfort zone at last year's US Open and seeing her interracial parents treated differently by the world.

“I would just watch interactions that my parents would have – because my parents, for the outside world, would be classified as an interracial couple – and sometimes they would get harassed a little bit. That’s when I started noticing that some people get treated differently,” Osaka said.

The world No. 2 spoke about how even though she's a world-class athlete, racism still infiltrates her every day life. When going out to the store or restaurants she consciously thinks about acting  ‘proper’ in order to not draw attention to herself.

It's situations like these and others tragic stories that have pushed Osaka to use her voice as a powerful tool for change in the game and beyond. One thing is certain, Osaka is working hard to get better both on and off the court, and she still cherishes one piece of advice from late basketball icon, Kobe Bryant.

"He was a mentor and close friend and he helped me get through some of the toughest parts of my life as an athlete. I remember telling him I wanted to be like him, and his response was ‘No, be better.’ I will never forget that," she told Glamour.