Naomi Osaka has been named Sportswoman of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards for her achievements on and off court, and Billie Jean King was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Laureus Academy. Osaka was the first athlete to receive an award, which she accepted virtually from her training base in Los Angeles.
“I am so happy to receive this Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award and I know that, for me, I’ve watched so many of my role models win this award growing up, so it definitely means a lot to now be holding it,” Osaka said clutching the trophy. “Looking ahead, my main hopes for the future would just be to have helped or impacted as many people as I could. You know, if you have a platform I think it’s very important to use it.”
The 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam champion was selected for her philanthropy and activism. She hosts a Play Academy — in association with Laureus Sport for Good and Nike — In Tokyo and recently announced she’ll be expanding to Los Angeles and Haiti. The program aims to encourage young women to find their voice through sports and helps them develop confidence and leadership skills.
Osaka also used her platform to shed light on police brutality during her 2020 U.S. Open title run. Each match, she walked onto the court at Arthur Ashe stadium wearing masks with the names of seven Black victims of police shootings, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin and George Floyd.
“Everything that I was doing off the court was sort of on the court at the same time too,” Osaka said at the time. “It made me stronger because I felt like I have more desire to win because I want to show more names.”
On Twitter, Osaka thanked her fans and followers. “I just wanna say I really appreciate you all. As you can tell, I don’t know where this road will lead but thanks for accompanying me on this journey lol,” she wrote.