Tennis: Japanese ace Naomi Osaka to star in comic book

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.

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