Naomi Osaka becomes Japan's first No. 1 tennis player
MELBOURNE, Australia - Women's tennis could be witnessing the birth of its next superstar and the heir apparent to the Williams' sisters as Naomi Osaka won the 2019 Australian Open in Melbourne on Jan. 26. Osaka is the first women's tennis player of Asian descent to ranked No. 1 in the world. She is also the first Japanese player of either gender to be the world's top tennis pro.
Her second consecutive Open win finished with Osaka being handed the tournament trophy by Li Na, who was the first woman of Asian descent to be a Grand Slam champion. This was Osaka's second-ever Grand Slam final appearance; she also won the U.S. Open late last year.
"Li Na is the first Asian Grand Slam champion, She handed the trophy to Naomi Osaka, who becomes the first Asian world No. 1," the official Austrialian Open Twitter page stated shortly after Osaka's win. "What a moment."
Na played from 1999-2014 and finished as high as No. 2 on the WTA rankings; the Chinese tennis player won two Grand Slams: the French Open in 2011 and Australian Open in 2014.
Japan's Osaka, who is only 21, won the U.S. Open in 2018 before claiming victory during at the Australian Open during the first month of 2019. Her U.S. Open victory over Serena Williams in September 2018 was marred by controvery. Williams accused the U.S. Open Final's judge of sexism after he penalized her during the competition's second set.
The Australian Open, however, was controversy-free, as Osaka defeated Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4. Osaka's ranking as the top tennis player at age 21 makes her the youngest female pro to achieve such a status since Caroline Wozniacki was No. 1 in 2010. Wozniacki reached No. 1 as a 20-year-old.
The last woman to win her first two Grand Slam finals was Jennifer Capriati in 2001.
Osaka is the daughter of a Japanese mother and Haitian father.