Naomi Osaka named winner of Laureus 2021 Sportswoman of the Year Award

Naomi Osaka holds the Laureus’ 2021 Sportswoman of the Year Award.

Naomi Osaka was known for her success on the tennis court and her social activism off it, Thursday when she was named winner of Laureus’ 2021 Sportswoman of the Year Award. And becoming the first Japanese to win one of the annual ceremony’s top honors.

The Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award has been given annually since 2000 when golfer Tiger Woods and American sprinter Marion Jones won the top men’s and women’s honors and it continues still.

In this past year, the 23-year-old Osaka won both the U.S. and Australian Open titles for the second time, while using her platform to speak out for the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality in the United States.

“I think it is important to use my voice because, for me, I feel like I often hold back a lot and worry about what people think of me, but you know if you have a platform it is very important you use it,” Osaka said.

“Looking ahead, my main hopes for the future would be just to have helped or impacted as many people as I could and, hopefully, be a better person.”

“I’ve watched so many of my role models win this award, so it definitely means a lot now to be holding it,” Osaka said in an acceptance speech broadcast at the event held digitally. “I am so happy to receive it. It really means a lot to me.”

“I think it is important to use my voice because, for me, I feel like I often hold back a lot and worry about what people think of me, but you know if you have a platform it is very important you use it, looking ahead, my main hopes for the future would be just to have helped or impacted as many people as I could and, hopefully, be a better person,” Osaka said.

In 2019, Osaka won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award, becoming the first Japanese to win any of the organization’s honors. She was also nominated for the sportswoman award in 2020. Kento Momota, the world’s top-ranked men’s badminton player, was nominated for the World Comeback of the Year Award but did not win.

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