Tennis: Japanese ace Naomi Osaka to star in comic book

The series was produced with the help of Naomi Osaka's older sister.
The series was produced with the help of Naomi Osaka's older sister.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's slam-winning tennis star Naomi Osaka has welcomed a new manga comic-book series where she will star as a cartoon character in a magazine aimed at teenage girls.

"Unrivalled Naomi Tenka-ichi", which will run in Nakayosi magazine from late December, was produced with the help of the 23-year-old's older sister, Mari. "Tenka-ichi" means "world No. 1" in Japanese.

"Growing up reading manga/watching anime was something that bonded me and my sister immensely so this is really exciting for both of us," the three-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 tweeted on Sunday (Nov 29).

The new character, which depicts a doe-eyed Osaka with pink and purple hair and wearing a yellow visor, follows a storm of controversy over a sponsor's cartoon image of her last year.

Noodle-maker Nissin apologised and withdrew the image, which showed Osaka with pale skin and light brown hair, after being accused of "white-washing" the Japanese-Haitian player.

World No. 3 Osaka, who has dislodged Serena Williams to be rated as the world's highest earning female athlete, is a household name in Japan where she is the face of several leading brands.