She might be the highest-paid female athlete of all time, but to Naomi Osaka’s parents, she’s just their daughter. Naomi’s mother, Tamaki Osaka, and father, Leonard Francois, have been her supporters since day one.
Naomi was born on October 16, 1997, in Chūō-Ku, Osaka, Japan. She has an older sister named Mari, who is a former professional tennis player. Naomi’s parents met in Hokkaido, when Francois, a college student from New York, was visiting, according to The New York Times. The two began dating and kept their relationship a secret for years. When she was in her early 20s, Tamaki’s father told her about omiai, the Japanese matchmaking process that would result from an arranged marriage. The truth came out and when Tamaki’s father learned that she was dating a foreigner, also black, he exploded and accused her of bringing misfortune to their family.
So this is a snapshot of Naomi Osaka’s parents’ first relationship. But who are her mother and father? Read on to learn what we know about Naomi Osaka’s parents and how they raised her to become the tennis legend we know today.
Tamaki Osaka is Naomi Osaka’s mother
Naomi’s mother, Tamaki, grew up in Nemuro, a coastal town on the eastern tip of Hokkaido, Japan’s northern island. In high school, Tamaki was sent to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. While attending high school, Tamaki met François. Tamaki’s parents disapproved of the relationship with the dark-skinned Haitian, Leonard Francois, so the young lovers stopped communicating with Tamaki’s family for some time.
Tamaki was estranged from her family for almost 15 years. When Naomi turned 11, she and her sister traveled to Japan to meet her grandparents for the first time. Tamaki’s parents showed interest in their granddaughters, but criticized Tamaki and Leonard for homeschooling and practicing tennis, which they considered a hobby rather than a profession.
Leonard François is Naomi Osaka’s father
Naomi’s father,Leonard François, is from Jacmel, Haiti. He was a university student in New York when he met Tamaki on a trip to Hokkaido. In 1999, when Naomi and Marie were still children, François watched the broadcast of the French Open featuring Venus and Serena Williams, who were 18 and 17 at the time and had won the doubles title that year. Although Francois played little tennis, he saw in the Williams sisters’ father, Richard, who did not play tennis, the inspiration to make his daughters champions as well.
The plan for future action was already in place, you just had to follow it.Leonard Francois
Naomi began working out when she was 3, after the family moved to Long Island and had access to free public gyms and tennis courts. While in New York, her dad, Francois, also read instructional books and watched DVDs, forcing his daughters to hit thousands of balls.
“I don’t remember liking hitting the ball. The main thing was that I wanted to beat my sister,” Naomi recalls of her first steps in tennis.
In 2006, when Naomi was eight, the family moved to Florida, where the sisters trained at Pembroke Pines. At 15, the young athlete began training at the ISP Tennis Academy under Patrick Tauma, moving to the Harold Solomon Academy in 2004, and then to the ProWorld Tennis Academy.
Although the Osaka sisters grew up in the United States and had American citizenship, their parents decided that they would represent Japan in tournaments.
“We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age. She was born in Osaka and was brought up in a household of Japanese and Haitian culture.”
The U.S. Tennis Association didn’t show interest in Naomi until the 16-year-old started winning WTA matches.
Yes. Tennis player Naomi Osaka was born in Osaka, Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian-born father in 1997.
Naomi’s father, François, is from Jacmel, Haiti. Naomi’s mother, Tamaki, grew up in Nemuro, a coastal town on the eastern tip of Hokkaido, Japan’s northern island
They’re a multicultural family. Tamaki is from Japan and Leonard is from Haiti
Yes. Naomi Osaka’s parents are still married and they support their young tennis star, Naomi.
Naomi and Mari kept their mother’s last name for practical reasons while living in Japan, but it became a connection to their homeland after moving to the U.S