Over the past years, Japanese professional tennis player Naomi Osaka has risen through the ranks from a rookie to become one of the biggest tennis icons in the world. She has been ranked at the No. 1 spot by the Women Tennis Association (WTA), a four-time Grand Slam champion and the first woman to win successive Grand Slam champion title since Serena Williams in 2011.
Often compared to 23 Grand Slam singles Champion Serena Williams, Osaka is proving to be a different kind of athlete as she builds on the tremendous work of Williams to launch tennis into the future by integrating fashion, culture and arts into the game. Apart from being the highest-paid spokeswoman and a champion on-court, Naomi is also deeply involved in social activism from a protest of police brutality to her Play Academy – an organization focused on promoting girls’ participation in sports.
The Academy was launched in Tokyo last year and has partnered with Nike, and Laureus Sport for Good to priorities education and sports for girls with the goal of making them role models worth emulating in the future. Recently, the Academy announced its expansion plans to Los Angeles and Haiti. In Los Angeles, the Play Academy will partner with community organizations to increase the sport opportunities available for girls, and will partner with GOALS Haiti and other organizations to support its mission.
The collaborative effort aims to promote youth leadership through sports and education and more female coaches will be hired for the program to help the girls build self-esteem and confidence. Wanting to be a part of the Community Development scheme, many brands such as Mastercard, Levi, Yonex, Strauss & Co and many more have pledged their support to the noble cause of providing the next generation with opportunities.
Osaka’s love and dedication to promoting social wellness is reflected in the brand partnership she chooses. She recently invested in Sweetgreen, a healthy- food restaurant chain and became the company’s first national athlete ambassador and youngest investor. With the partnership, Sweetgreen aims to achieve an important goal – change the outlook of brands and athletes towards healthy eating and pass the important message of healthy food to the younger generation.
In the company’s press release, co-founder and chief brand officer of Sweetgreen, Nathaniel Ru shared, “Sweetgreen is honored to partner with Naomi because she stands for what she believes in and uses her platform to educate and inspire the next generation.”
Getting to work, Osaka teamed up with the company’s culinary team to design the custom “Naomi Osaka” bowl. The bowl will contain a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables such as cilantro, baby spinach, raw carrots, tomato, tortilla chips, goat chips, avocado, blackened chicken and many more.
Osaka shared her excitement about the new brand partnership and its positive impact in the community. She emphasized that healthy eating is a huge part of her diet as it directly correlates to how well she performs on-court.