DESPITE what you might think about Serena Williams’ performance at the US Open final, what isn’t up for dispute is the incredible talent of Naomi Osaka.
The 20-year-old’s first Grand Slam win has already been marred by controversy, but with a blazing forehand that’s faster than Roger Federer’s, Osaka has proved she’s already a star.
You don’t get to Osaka’s level without a life full of sacrifices.
That includes abstaining from the lifestyle adopted by most people her age, so no boozy college parties or instant noodles for dinner.
Osaka told Teen Vogue she sticks to a “strict diet” both during a tennis tournament and the off-season.
“It’s going to sound kind of extreme, but during the off-season, I was eating boiled foods. I would boil chicken and broccoli, and no carbs,” she said.
During competition, including the US Open, things get a little less strict.
“I’ve been eating the same breakfast for two weeks now, which is a salmon bagel. I ate that before my match,” Osaka said. “I always have to put my right shoe on first, and all my racquets have to be on a certain side of my bag.”
Osaka loves ice cream but isn’t allowed to indulge too often.
“Only green tea ice cream. I don’t eat it when I’m training, but if I win a tournament, I would want to. But I still haven’t,” she said.
She’s about to fly to Tokyo but won’t be tucking into sushi while she’s home in Japan.
“Lots of good rice dishes. I’m not really allowed to eat carbs leading up to a tournament, so I’m a little sad about that, but, hopefully, I’ll have at least one good meal,” she said.
All that hard work is paying off. Osaka is reportedly set to sign one of the richest sponsorship deals in women’s sport, worth an estimated $14 million ($US10 million) per year.
Her current sponsorship deal with Adidas expires at the end of 2018 and the brand is reportedly moving quickly to ensure she stays.
The monster deal would see Osaka rocket up the list of highest-earning female athletes on the planet. It’s reportedly the third richest sponsorship deal in women’s tennis and the most money Adidas has ever handed to a female tennis player.
Her potential new sponsorship deal and US Open champion prize money of $5.3 million ($US3.8m) would see Osaka jump Caroline Wozniacki into second spot on the 2018 Forbes’ list of highest paid female athletes.
Serena Williams tops the list with earnings of $18.1 million in 2017, thanks to more than a dozen sponsors, including Nike, Intel, watch brand Audemars Piguet, JPMorgan Chase, car brand Lincoln, Gatorade and Beats.