Superstar tennis player Naomi Osaka said Thursday she intends to represent Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo next year. The two-time Grand Slam champion will give up her U.S. citizenship to play for her birth country in her Olympic debut.
Osaka currently holds dual nationality from Japan and the United States. She turns 22 next week, the age at which Japanese law requires dual-nationality citizens to choose one.
Osaka was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father and was raised in the U.S. from the age of 3. She told Japanese public broadcaster NHK that she has chosen to pursue Japanese citizenship, calling it a “special desire.”
“It’s definitely going to be very special,” Osaka said. “I think there’s no other place that I’d rather play my first Olympics. I think that will be one of the most memorable things that ever happens to me.”
Osaka won the China Open Sunday and is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, playing for Japan both in the Fed Cup and on the WTA Tour.
Japan has never taken home a gold medal for tennis at the Olympics, and Osaka’s debut at the 2020 Games may prove to be the nation’s best shot at the title.
“I’m kind of looking forward to everything like the opening ceremony,” she told the Olympic Channel. “It’s also a very big honor to even be participating.”
Osaka became the first Japanese player to ever win a Grand Slam title after beating Serena Williams at the 2018 U.S. Open. She took home her second Grand Slam title after defeating Petra Kvitova in the 2019 Australian Open.