Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Naomi Osaka set to give up American citizenship to represent Japan at Tokyo Olympics

Two-time grand slam champion will bid to win gold in her mother's homeland next summer

Naomi Osaka has won two grand slam titles in her career so far. Reuters
Naomi Osaka has won two grand slam titles in her career so far. Reuters

World No 3 Naomi Osaka has revealed that she has taken steps to revoke her American citizenship and make Japanese her sole nationality with the intention if representing the home nation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Osaka, who has a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, told public broadcaster NHK she has completed an administrative step to obtain Japanese citizenship ahead of her 22nd birthday next week.

Japanese law stipulates that a Japanese person with more than one nationality must chose one before turning 22.

"It gives me a special feeling to try to go to the Olympics to represent Japan," the two-time grand slam champion told the broadcaster in an interview in Tokyo.

"I think I will be able to put more of my emotion into it by playing for the pride of the country."

Osaka said she wants to aim for the gold although she is also worried as expectations will be high.

The young tennis sensation is a household name in Japan, where her every move is followed by local media, particularly when she is in the country.

She is the face of several leading Japanese brands, including the carrier ANA, and "Naomi-chan" - as she is affectionately known - was the main attraction at last month's Pan Pacific Open in Osaka, which she won.

But she has faced controversies over her dual heritage in a nation that is fairly racially homogeneous, as well as scrutiny for her imperfect Japanese language skills - though others insist they add to her charm.

Osaka became the first Japanese player to win a grand slam last year after beating Serena Williams at the US Open. She followed that by winning the next major tournament at the Australian Open in January.

Updated: October 10, 2019 04:39 PM

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