Over the past 13 months, Naomi Osaka won her first title, in Indian Wells, took home her maiden Grand Slam at the US Open and followed it up with a second major at the Australian Open, becoming the first-ever world No. 1 from Asia.
All of this has propelled Osaka to global stardom, evidenced by her selection as one of TIME magazine's "100 most influential people."
.@ChrissieEvert on @Naomi_Osaka_: "No one represents our more globalized, multicultural future better than this honest, polite, self-deprecating tennis life force, a potential champion for years to come" #TIME100 https://t.co/vnmTnpwyC6— TIME (@TIME) April 17, 2019
"Some people want her to embrace a single identity," Chris Evert wrote in Osaka's blurb for TIME, in the Pioneers category. "She’s more concerned with just being herself."
Close observers will know this isn't Osaka's first encounter with the magazine; she was recently on the cover of its January 21 issue.
In that cover story, Osaka shed light on the empathy she felt around the then-still-fresh US Open final versus Serena Williams, saying: "I didn’t experience her life. I can’t tell her what she’s supposed to do, because there are things that she’s gone through ... I actually still really love her."
Osaka moved on to win the Australian Open five months later, taking out two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the final.
"Rookie Grand Slam tournament champs often fall short at their next major," Evert writes. "All Naomi Osaka did was conquer the world again."
As she embraces the mantle of representing Japan, Haiti and more, her influence will only continue to grow.