Naomi Osaka is the second of Vogue‘s four January cover stars. The three-time Grand Slam champion is super honored and grateful to grace the cover of the world’s most famous fashion magazine and be in the position of her childhood idols.
Posing for renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, Osaka is wearing a dress by Louis Vuitton. The luxury goods company is among the names from Osaka’s long list of high-profile sponsors which also includes Nike, Mastercard, Beats, PlayStation, AirBnB, Nissan (cars), and Nissin (noodles).
In the Vogue interview, Osaka explains that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the excess of free time she had as a consequence, gave her an opportunity to more closely follow American news, which led to her going to her first ever protest, in Minneapolis, following George Floyd’s death.
As tennis players, we’re so hyper-focused on what happens on the court, and we think our life is sort of determined by whether we win a match or not. That’s not true. I think that the pandemic gave me the chance to go into the real world and do things that I wouldn’t have done without it.
Afterwards, Osaka stood up against racial justice as she famously wore masks emblazoned with names of Black American victims of violence for each of her seven matches en route to the 2020 US Open title. Even for this Vogue photoshoot, Osaka wore a mask with the name Emmett Till written on it — an African American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955.
I was just thinking that I had this opportunity to raise awareness. Tennis is watched all around the world, so people who might not know these names can google them and learn their stories. That was a big motivator for me, and I think it helped me win the tournament.
The 23-year-old Osaka also mentioned that she would like to have more friends, but she’s not pushing anything:
I’m a bit of a loner, but not by choice. I would like more friends, but I’m not forcing it. I don’t like to go to parties, because I’m not a good dancer, and they’re loud, and you sort of shout at a person to talk to them. I’m not that great at small talk. Mainly I’m a homebody, and my boyfriend records all the time, but he’s an even bigger homebody than me.
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