Sporting Life

Naomi Osaka: The champion and the challenge

Number 1 is a position, a prize and a predicament. You earn it, then you have to wear it. In the mirror you see the same person but the world sees someone else. You are a human, an athlete and now also an ideal. You are the tennis standard and a poster on a wall. Little girls are saying they want to be you. Mothers approve.

Are you ready? Smile, please.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2019, with the headline 'Osaka: The champion and the challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe