Naomi Osaka became a household name overnight after winning her maiden Grand Slam title in 2018. Her results since then have continued to raise her profile as an exceptional tennis player, but it's the Japanese's stance on various social causes that has led her to becoming a global icon.
Now, Naomi Osaka has been honored as one of the "Modern Heroines" of the world by Elle magazine. The series, called "Disney’s Ultimate Princess Celebration", celebrates real-life heroes and heroines who best symbolize the spirit and determination shown by various Disney princesses.
"Being authentically myself is the value I most strive for," Osaka said to Elle. "I've never wanted to feel pressured into conforming to what other people think I should be."
Naomi Osaka has always done what she feels is right, even if it could've hurt her professionally. At last year's Western & Southern Open, the Japanese withdrew from the tournament to protest against police brutality towards black people. The tournament organizers eventually paused play for a day in solidarity with Osaka and the nationwide movement.
The 23-year-old continued to champion that cause at the US Open as well, wearing masks commemorating the victims of police brutality and racial injustice. Most athletes are advised to keep quiet regarding these matters as it could jeopardize their careers, but Naomi Osaka dared to be different.
The four-time Grand Slam champion started another conversation earlier this year, on the topic of mental health. She decided to skip her press conferences at this year's French Open to prioritize her own mental well-being, while also calling for a change in the format of mandatory media interactions.
Naomi Osaka is currently on a hiatus from tennis following her third-round exit from this year's US Open. However, in a recent appearance on the show "The Shop: Uninterrupted", she expressed a desire to compete again soon.
Naomi Osaka chooses which Disney princess she relates to the most
Elle Magazine further highlighted a couple of other initiatives by Naomi Osaka that make her a suitable choice for the role of a "modern heroine". One of those initiatives is her brand Kinlo, which is designed to fulfil the skincare needs of people with color.
Osaka has also been working on the expansion of 'Play Academy', which is aimed at increasing girls' participation in sports. Originally limited to her native Japan alone, Play Academy has now expanded to Los Angeles and Haiti too.
When asked which Disney princess she relates to the most, Naomi Osaka revealed that she loves Ariel but identifies more with Mulan.
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"My sister Mari and I watched The Little Mermaid millions of times growing up," Osaka said, before adding that the princess she most relates to today is Mulan "because she saved people rather than waiting to be saved."