World tennis star Naomi Osaka, who enjoys dual American and Japanese nationality, has decided to opt for the rising sun with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the viewfinder, the state-run NHK reported on Thursday.
Osaka, born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father and who defends the colors of Japan on the world circuit, said in an interview with the NHK that she had taken an administrative step to obtain Japanese citizenship before her birthday on October 16th.
Japanese law stipulates that a Japanese with more than one nationality must choose one before he turns 22 years old.
"It gives me a special feeling to try to go to the Olympics to represent Japan," said the holder of two Grand Slam titles. "I think I can put more emotion into playing for the pride of the country," she said, according to the article published in Japanese on the NHK website.
Osaka added that she was aiming for the gold medal although she worries about the high expectations that will weigh on her shoulders during these home Olympics.
The world's N.3 is very popular in Japan, followed fervently by local media and faces of several major Japanese brands.
Living in the United States since the age of three, she is, however, facing controversy over her dual heritage, with Métis children often being prejudiced in Japan, although the attitudes of younger generations are changing.
She undergoes a careful examination of her imperfect knowledge of the Japanese language - though others insist that her imperfections add to her charm.
Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese sportsman to win a Grand Slam tournament in 2018 at the US Open, before gleaning a second major at the Australian Open the following year, becoming the first Japanese woman in history to rise to the top of world tennis, men and women alike.
Kei Nishikori reached only the 2014 US Open final and 4th place at ATP.
© 2019 AFP