Naomi Osaka recently sent out a heartfelt message of support for the people of Japan, her home country. In a statement released by her management company, Osaka expressed hope that her Australian Open win acts as a source of inspiration for her Japanese fans, while also vowing to give her best at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
The message has particular significance right now, coming as it does on the back of the earthquake that struck the country last week. An earthquake of 7.3 magnitude struck the coast of Northeastern Japan on 13 February, and although no casualties were reported, several people were left injured in its wake.
"I would be very happy if my victory can bring power and strength to the Japanese people, and look forward to keep giving the best of myself in the upcoming Olympics as I strive to become even stronger," Naomi Osaka said.
"I pray from the bottom of my heart that the power of tennis and sports will make the world a happier place," she added.
Naomi Osaka is expected to be one of the biggest stars of the Tokyo Games, given that she has become a global sporting and cultural icon over the past few years. The Tokyo Olympics has been postponed from its original schedule in 2020 to later this year due to the pandemic.
Dedicate this win to those impacted by the 2011 Great East Earthquake and tsunami, and by the coronavirus pandemic: Naomi Osaka
In her statement, Naomi Osaka dedicated her latest Grand Slam triumph to those impacted by the Great East Earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
The 13 February earthquake this month struck the same region that was devastated by the Great East Earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. The 2011 earthquake was among the most powerful and devastating earthquakes ever recorded, and it also led to Japan's worst nuclear disaster on record.
More than 15,000 people were reported to have either died or gone missing in that disaster, which affected several thousand more in a myriad of ways.
"I would like to thank everyone in Japan for their continued warm support," Osaka said. "Since I heard there was another large quake in Japan recently, I also want to dedicate this win to those whose lives have still yet to be fully put back together following the ravages of the Great East Earthquake and tsunami [in 2011]."
Naomi Osaka also dedicated her Australian Open triumph to the COVID-19 warriors for "doing what they can" to help people across the world deal with the pandemic.
"Seeing as we are still contending with the coronavirus on a daily basis, I would like to dedicate this victory to the people around the world who are doing what they can to help us escape its shadow," Osaka added.
"Although there has been a lot of sad news lately regarding the coronavirus and earthquakes, I think that we need to remember the importance of life and have an open heart to help one another in times like these," she added.