Naomi Osaka stuns on the Vogue Cover Debut of the January 2021 issue

Naomi stunning on the Vogue cover issue of January 2021 photographed by Annie Leibovitz, looked in complete possession of her talents, her natural curls lifted by a gentle breeze, her makeup minimal  apprise her natural beauty. Osaka is wearing an asymmetrical striped Louis Vuitton dress, Osaka looks like the true peoples champion.

          

   In the two short years since Osaka became an international tennis phenomenon by defeating her longtime idol Serena Williams in the now famous 2018.US Open. Has Since then been leading by example, her platform becomes wider, as evidenced in her latest debut as a cover girl for American Vogue. Osaka has wielded her voice with intention and care.

“I used to think that everything depended on the game, and now I sort of understand that you have to find balance,” she says. “I want to become knowledgeable, to have a vast understanding of things, or even lots of tiny things that amount to one big thing. I want to be a nice person to everyone I meet. This is putting it in video-game terms, but I think the me right now is sort of at the level 50 of tennis, and everything else in my life is at level five or six. I want to even out my levels.”

But what has made Osaka special this year is her emergence as tennis’ foremost voice on racial justice issues. 

    

           

The 23-year-old spoke about her interest in racial justice, which began when she was just a teenager living in Florida.  She was 14 and living in Boca Raton, just three hours north of where Trayvon was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, an aggressive neighborhood vigilante.

“I feel like this is something that was building up in me for a while,” Osaka told the magazine. “I watched the Trayvon stuff go down. For me that was super-scary.”

Osaka participated in the Black Lives Matter protests alongside her boyfriend, rapper Cordae, in Minneapolis in the days following Floyd’s death at the hands of local police. She told Vogue it was the first rally of any kind she had ever attended.  

She spoke on being perceived as shy and reserved.

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.” 

 “That shy label has stuck with me through the ups and downs of my career, I’m Black, and I live in America, and I personally didn’t think it was too far-fetched when I started talking about things that were happening here”

Osaka has been vocal about the need to protect Black lives on social media and on the court. Following the Milwaukee Bucks’boycott during the NBA playoffs, she postponed her appearance at a tournament in support of the athletes. When she won this year’s U.S. Open tournament, she did so while acknowledging victims of racial violence. Each time she stepped out for a match, Osaka honored a different person by wearing their names printed on a black facemask.

This grants her a unique perspective—and an opportunity to talk about racism directly to audiences who normally don’t spend much time considering it. But while she has been attacked for her stances, Osaka is at ease with her role—even if who she is and what she stands for confuses people.

“Some people label me, and they expect me to stick to that label,” she told Vogue. “Since I represent Japan, some people just expect me to be quiet and maybe only speak about Japanese topics. I consider myself Japanese-Haitian-American. I always grew up with a little bit more Japanese heritage and culture, but I’m Black, and I live in America, and I personally didn’t think it was too far-fetched when I started talking about things that were happening here. There are things going on here that really scare me.”


 

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