As Naomi Osaka’s fame grows, she’s making sure to pay it forward.
The tennis star has announced that she’ll be opening up a tennis academy in two of the most important places to her– Haiti when she was born and Los Angeles, where she currently resides.
Don’t forget that Osaka is also half Japanese and opened one of the centers — Play Academy– opened their last year. But now, with the continued help of Nike and Laureus Sport for Good, Osaka wants to open more to make sure that everyone who’s got an interest in the sport has the opportunity to pick up a racket and master their skills.
“We believe that all kids — especially girls — deserve a chance to play, no matter where they come from or what they look like,” Osaka tells PEOPLE. “The more we provide girls with opportunities to get active, the more opportunities we are giving them to become leaders in their communities.”
The Haitian branch of the academy will be about more than just tennis. Osaka wants to ensure women coaches are hired and provide girls with education to help build up their confidence, self-esteem, and leadership skills, which are just a few of the lifelong skills learned when playing sports.
Osaka recognizes how important it was that she had access to these types of facilities and how much it helped her conquer her dreams of dominating the sport of tennis. Now, she wants to make it a little easier for the next generation to do the same.
“Growing up, I dreamed about winning Grand Slams and becoming number one in the world,” she recounts. “While it was not easy, my family was dedicated to helping me get the access I needed to reach my goals. But unfortunately, not all girls have the same opportunities that I did.”
Los Angeles-based non-profit organizations interested in working with Laureus Sport for Good and Nike in hopes of changing girls’ lives through sport are encouraged to apply here.
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