Naomi Osaka

50 Most Marketable 2018 - Naomi Osaka

Japanese, 20, Tennis

An emerging talent with Tokyo 2020 in her sights

Representatives: WME | IMG

Key Partners: Nissin, Wowow, Adidas, Yonex, Citizen

The daughter of a Japanese mother and Haitian father, Naomi Osaka was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is a multi-cultural combination that differentiates this 20-year-old from her rivals at the upper echelons of the ever-mutable WTA Tour.

Though yet to progress beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam, the reigning Indian Wells champion has climbed to 17th in the world, catching the eye of the very best in the process. Two years ago, when Osaka was just 18, Serena Williams described her as “very dangerous” - and if anyone knows a dangerous player, of course, it’s Serena.

Osaka’s rise could hardly be better timed. With an Olympics coming up in her motherland, she will almost certainly become one of Japan’s poster figures of the Games alongside her male counterpart Kei Nishikori. Already an Adidas athlete, she has the agency behemoth of WME | IMG in her corner, and with six of the last 11 female Grand Slam winners having been first-time champions, few would bet against Osaka joining that club at some stage. NF

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