The rising Haitian-Japanese professional tennis star Naomi Osaka accompanies her parents Leonard Francois and Tamaki Osaka to Haiti to discover her Haitian roots. And judging by her broad smile at the press conference organized by the national tennis association, she enjoys the experience. If Japan is usually presented in a positive way in the USA where Naomi resides, it is the opposite for Haiti which has been a victim of negative press in the country for ages. However, nothing deterred Naomi from embracing the country of her father as her own. "Visiting Haiti was my own decision", she revealed.
Naomi and her sister Mari, also a tennis player, were both born in Japan where they started playing tennis at a very young age. However, the family moved to the United States when the children were still young where they grew up alongside Haitian relatives. According to Naomi, despite growing up in the USA, she did not wait to visit Haiti to experience her Haitian heritage. "In New York, I live with many Haitian members of my family (grand-mother and cousins). We only consume Haitian food. Haitian cuisine is delicious", she said.
Naomi is a rising star in professional tennis where she currently ranks in the top 50 in the world which makes her the second highest ranked Haitian tennis player behind Ronald Agenor who cracked the top 25 in 1989. This year, Naomi has gotten the attention of the tennis world by beating Angelique Kleber and Venus Williams, respectively number 6 and 5 in the world.
Naomi is one of a number of Haitian-Japanese athletes who are coming out and embracing their Haitian heritage. Zachary Herivaux, also born in Japan and raised in USA, has officially chosen to represent Haiti by playing in an international friendly match versus Japan where he was instrumental his assist on Haiti's third goal almost gave his team the victory. The game ended 3-3.
Haiti Sports was the first English language news site that has published an article on Naomi and her sister Mari to introduce them to the Haitian diaspora in the United States.