Even if you're not a tennis fan, you'll have heard of Naomi Osaka by now. The 22-year-old is currently ranked ninth in the world by the Women's Tennis Association; most recently, she's been using her U.S. Open platform (opens in new tab) to honor Black citizens of the United States who have died from police brutality, including Trayvon Martin, (opens in new tab) George Floyd, (opens in new tab) and Breonna Taylor. (opens in new tab) "I feel like I'm a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness," Osaka has said.
So when you're one of the greatest tennis players like, ever, it helps to have a good team behind you, and Osaka seems to have that. She's super close with her family and knows a good coach when she sees one. In the past year alone, she's had four different coaches, which might feel odd to some—but if anything, it's a test that makes clear she won't accept anything but the very best.
Osaka's current coach is Wim Fissette.
In September 2019, Osaka announced (opens in new tab) that she would work with Belgian Wim Fissette for the 2020 season. He's worked with tons of other high-ranking players, including Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, and Simona Halep, to name a few.
Fissette is her fourth coach (opens in new tab) in less than a year. She was previously coached by her dad for two tournaments after Osaka let go of her former coach, Jermaine Jenkins, in September of last year.
Her new coach is vocal about his admiration for her. "It's very important to have big personalities like Naomi to make a change, hopefully, one day," Fissette has said (opens in new tab). "I think it's a great thing that she does. For sure, with wearing the masks, she wants to be a role model, but she also knows that it has to go together with the role model on court. It's a good combination. Role model off court, great attitude on court. So far, it's working really well. I'm very proud of her."
Osaka was sued by a former coach.
Christophe Jean, who worked with the two-time Grand Slam winner when she was 13, sued Osaka and her family in March 2019. According to TMZ (opens in new tab), Jean reportedly signed a contract with Osaka's father, Francois. Jean was looking to receive 20 percent of the Osaka's "tennis prize money and endorsement deals forever." The total amount he believed he was owed was around $2 million.
"While it comes as no surprise that Naomi's meteoric rise as an international icon and inspiration would lead to some false claim, this silly, imaginary contract that Naomi never saw or signed—which purports to give away part of herself at the age of 14—is particularly absurd," said Alex Spiro, Osaka's lawyer, to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. (opens in new tab) A judge dismissed the lawsuit (opens in new tab) later that year, saying the girls were minors at the time and it wasn't approved by a court.
She was once coached by a former hitting partner for Venus Williams.
As we mentioned earlier, Jenkins worked with the two-time Grand Slam winner between March and September last year. Osaka then ended their partnership, explaining on Twitter, "I'm super grateful for the time we spent together and the things I learned on and off the court, but I feel like now is (an) appropriate time for a change."
Thank you 🙏 pic.twitter.com/lezK48041HSeptember 12, 2019
Jenkins and his brother Jarmere both worked for the Williams sisters, (opens in new tab)starting back in 2015. Under Jenkins' coaching, Venus climbed back into the Top 5 and reached the finals of the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the WTA Finals in 2017. So you can totally see why Osaka wanted Jenkins for her team.
Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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