Tennis star Naomi Osaka seems to be dropping the U.S. like a bad habit and putting all her heart into her home country of Japan.
Accoding to CNN, Osaka has decided to become a sole citizen of Japan over the U.S. just in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 22-year-old was born in Japan to a Japanese mom and a Haitian father but was later brought to the U.S. She maintained a duel nationality, but according to Japanese law, people with dual nationality must pick one before their 22nd birthday. Osaka’s big day is on Tuesday.
She told Japanese public broadcaster NHK that it gives her “a special feeling to try to go to the Olympics to represent Japan.”
Her choice is sure to raise some eyebrows, considering she’s experienced her fair share of racism from the country. In September, a Japanese comedy duo known as A Masso reportedly made comments at a live event saying Osaka “needed some bleach.” They also described Osaka as “too sunburned.”
Eventually, the duo and their management apologized, even though they didn’t mention Osaka by name, saying, “Though we should have thought about it, we made remarks that hurt many people, something we will never do again.”
Back in January, a Japanese noodle company called Nissin also faced backlash for a commercial that depicted Osaka as a cartoon character with pale skin. The company eventually took the ad down insisting they didn’t intend to whitewash Osaka and they will “pay more attention to respect for diversity in our PR activities.”
Osaka doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about these things, telling NHK, “I think I will be able to put more of my emotion into it by playing for the pride of the country.”
Osaka recently defeated world No. 1 player Ash Bary in the final of the China Open in Beijing this past Sunday. She also scored a victory last month at the Pan Pacific Open in Japan, making her the No.3 player in the world.
As far as grand slam wins, she beat Serena Williams in the US Open final last year and she followed up with a win at the Australian Open in January, making her one of Japan’s biggest and profitable sports stars.
On the WTA Tour, she plays under the Japanese flag, and she made her Fed Cup debut for the country in 2017.