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Naomi Osaka’s father decided his daughters would represent Japan, not the U.S.

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Following in Venus and Serena Williams’ footsteps, Leonard Francois made his daughters, Mari and Naomi Osaka to start vying off against older players on pro satellite tours, but they didn’t get much attention from the United States Tennis Association, according to The New York Times.

 

So, their father, Leonard Francois, decided that Mari and Naomi would play for Japan instead of the United States, starting from when they were 13.

 

Naomi didn’t seem as gifted as Mari at first, but now, Naomi’s tennis career has taken off as Mari has struggled to play through a shoulder injury. Mari still competes on the USTA pro circuit, however, and she’s currently ranked No. 335 in the world, according to WTA.

 

“I’m not with you as much as I would like, and I don’t always get to be there for these big wins,” Mari wrote in her Glamour letter to her younger sister. “I know better than to give you tennis advice, but it makes me happy that you still call me before big matches. You tell me you’re nervous. I tell you to picture everyone naked.”

 

Naomi Osaka defeated a former U.S. Open champion at just 16

Naomi Osaka scored her first tour-level win — and made international news — at age 16 when she beat former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California.

 

Osaka clinched the victory with a 120 mph serve, as Sports Illustrated reported at the time. “It’s probably the second best win of my life, probably,” the then-teenager told reporters after the match. “First being when I first beat my sister. I was like, ‘Yeah, in your face.'”

Japanese media celebrated the news of Osaka’s victory, according to The New York Times, and her maternal grandfather — who’d previously criticized Osaka’s tennis training and home-schooling — took notice.

 

Over the years, he has become supportive of her athletic ambitions, even sending her a small silk pouch for good luck, a gift Osaka then hung from her tennis bag.







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