US Open champion Osaka isn't sure if she considers herself role model

by: Matt Cronin | September 29, 2018

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The No. 8-ranked Naomi Osaka has become the new sensation of the WTA Tour since winning the US Open, but isn't sure if she considers herself a role model yet.

Osaka also reached the final in Tokyo last week, and is likely to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore. The 20-year-old is still getting used to her new status, but is happy if it inspires others.

“People my age don't look up to me,” Osaka said. “I'm really grateful if they do look up to me, but I know that for me, I've been really inspired by a lot of people growing up to play tennis. If I even have that chance to be a role model to other people, I'm definitely really grateful. 

"For me, I love Serena [Williams, who she beat in the final of the US Open], [Roger] Federer and Li Na. I think just the fact that [Li] was like the first Asian Grand Slam champion, like from China. For me to be the first Japanese now, I think it's really cool people can aspire.”

The Florida-based Osaka represents Japan, where she was born to Japanese and Haitian parents. She is now among the country's most famous athletes, and according to the Times of London, will have the biggest shoe and clothing agreement signed by a female player in the sport.

Osaka says she has been fully occupied with her playing career since she was very young, so it's hard for her to understand her impact.

“For me, growing up, tennis is all I've done, so I don't really know too much life outside of tennis. It sort of ties in with each other,” Osaka said.  “If I am a symbol or if I can be an inspiration... I definitely want to take it in a positive way.”

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