Naomi Osaka Is Giving Back to Her Hometown Community In the Coolest Way

The four-time Grand Slam champion helped refurbish her childhood tennis courts so more kids can experience the love of the sport.

Photo: Getty Images

Naomi Osaka has had a busy few weeks leading up to this week's U.S. Open. In addition to lighting the Olympic torch at last month's Tokyo Games, the four-time Grand Slam champion has also been working on a project that's near and dear to her heart: refurbishing the childhood tennis courts she grew up playing on in Jamaica, Queens.

Teaming up with older sister Mari, New York-based graffiti artist MASTERPIECE NYC, and BODYARMOR LYTE, the 23-year-old tennis sensation opened up to Peloton's Ally Love during last week's court unveiling at Detective Keith L. Williams Park. "I really love designing stuff, whether it be fashion or courts now," said Osaka. "I always thought it was really important to be kind of colorful. I think courts kind of stay the same neutral colors. So just giving it a pop of color and making it recognizable was really important."

And the courts certainly stand out. Not only were the entire tennis facilities redone, but the courts now feature bold and bright shades of blue and green, not to mention artwork of tennis balls and trophies splashed around the perimeter. "To see the courts kind of new and different from how I grew up, it's really amazing," said Osaka.

Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka moved to Valley Stream, New York, when she was just 3 years old. And while much has changed for the world's No. 3-ranked tennis player, she hasn't forgotten her roots. "For me, just to revisit here and wanting to build it up, and do better for the community, I think was very important for both of us," she added last week of her partnership with BODYARMOR, which is also based in Queens.

During the official unveiling, which included a youth tennis clinic, Osaka was also asked what her biggest piece of advice would be for young athletes. "You definitely have to enjoy what you're doing, and for me, it's taken a long time, but just being grateful to be there — or be here — just to be present," said Osaka. "I would just say while you're playing, have love for the sport, and even if you're not playing, just want to be a better you at the end of the day."

Osaka has been open about her mental health struggles in recent months, notably her withdrawal from the French Open in May. In a candid message shared Sunday on social media, however, the two-time U.S. Open champ revealed how she's hoping to shift her mindset. "What I'm trying to say is that I'm gonna try to celebrate myself and my accomplishments more, I think we all should," wrote Osaka. "Your life is your own and you shouldn't value yourself on other people's standards. I know I give my heart to everything I can and if that's not good enough for some then my apologies, but I can't burden myself with those expectations anymore." (

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