U.S. Open women's champion Naomi Osaka is back in Japan celebrating not only her landmark victory, but also a sponsorship deal with car manufacturer Nissan.
Osaka made headlines this week for her part in the Serena Williams controversy that threatened to overshadow Japan's first Grand Slam singles victory. Appreciation for what the 20-year-old achieved in defeating Williams has since been gathering momentum, with Nissan now appointing her its brand ambassador.
"This week has been a dream come to life, and I'm so honored to represent Japan and Nissan on the world stage," Osaka said. "I was drawn to partner with Nissan because of its strong Japanese DNA and global competitive spirit. The brand is always challenging expectations, and I look forward to bringing its vision for driving excitement to new audiences around the world."
Despite being in tears on Saturday while receiving the trophy inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York — after Williams' outburst at umpire Carlos Ramos, calling him a "liar" and a "thief" — Osaka said she holds no ill-feelings about what happened.
"I don't feel sad because I wouldn't even know what I'm expected to feel. Because I feel like since it was my first final, and it was my first Grand Slam victory, overall I felt really happy and I know that I accomplished a lot."
As part of the Nissan partnership, Osaka will appear in global promotions and advertising for the car company. She joins a roster of Nissan's other global ambassadors, including soccer players Gareth Bale of Real Madrid and Manchester City's record goal-scorer Sergio Aguero, who both featured prominently during Nissan's most recent UEFA Champions League sponsorship campaign.
Osaka revealed on Ellen DeGeneres' TV show this week that she doesn't actually own a car. However, she will now also be provided with Nissan vehicles at her tennis tour destinations.
Osaka was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1997 to a Haitian-American father and a Japanese mother, before the family moved to the U.S. when she was three. Even though she spends a lot of her time away from Japan, Osaka is proud of her mixed-race heritage and representing her country through tennis.
"People tell me I act kind of Japanese, so I guess there is that. But other than that, if you were talking about my tennis, I think my tennis is very, not very Japanese," Osaka said Wednesday.
In winning her maiden Grand Slam, Osaka more than doubled her career prize money, adding $3.8 million to her total. Nissan joins a growing number of companies that have partnered with Osaka, including athletic brands Adidas and Yonex, Nissin Foods, Wowow and watchmaker Citizen.