The tennis star talks to Harper’s BAZAAR about style, sports, and social justice.
Words by Bianca Betancourt
When the world was first introduced to Naomi Osaka’s brilliance as a burgeoning tennis star, we also discovered her signature, experimental style. The 23-year-old’s personal fashion statements include bold prints, standout sneakers, and eye-catching accessories, which she interchanges between her sleek and sporty competition looks on the court. Considering her thoughtful approach to dressing and accessorizing, her new partnership with TAG Heuer comes as no surprise—she’s now the renowned watch brand’s newest global ambassador.
Osaka is “excited” for her new role, and as someone who pays attention to craftsmanship, teaming up with the luxury watchmaker just made sense. “I know it sounds cliché, but a timepiece is really timeless, and it’s important to consider style, quality, and history,” she tells BAZAAR.com.
With three Grand Slam wins under her belt, Osaka can also relate to the brand’s “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” motto. “It really spoke to me at this level of tennis, because everyone is good enough to win. It comes down to handling the pressure and the mental side of the game,” she says.
Osaka also understands how a single accessory can make an outfit, whether she’s curating her outfits for game time or down time. “I enjoy fashion, and part of putting together my looks on and off the court involves accessories and watches. It’s a subtle addition to an outfit but something I think rounds out a look. For me, accessories are an opportunity to be bolder and really elevate a look, so I like unique designs that draw people’s attention,” she shares.
Functionality is also key. As someone who spends most of her time practicing, Osaka needs a timepiece that can endure her daily workouts. “On the court, my look is about ease of movement, not something that feels too confined or distracts from my play,” she says. “Off the court, I will go for a more oversized or fashion-forward look. Either way, I love to wear bright colors and statement pieces when I can.”
When she’s not winning matches all over the world or decompressing at home (she credits playing video games, reading manga, and cooking as some of her go-to ways to relax), she’s using her platform for social change. During the US Open in September, Osaka brought awareness to ongoing Black Lives Matter protests that were taking place across the nation following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many more. Each day she competed, she wore a mask with the name of a Black person taken from the world too soon, and unjustly killed. She bore their names not just to demand justice, but to encourage sweeping societal change too. The US Open was a moment when the athlete asserted herself as more than a sports star, but a genuine voice calling for a better, fairer, more caring, and more equitable world.
“For me [speaking out] wasn’t something I did for my career, or something that was ‘planned.’ It was something that had been bothering me for quite some time, and it felt like the right thing to do,” says Osaka. “I always knew that I wanted to speak up, I just didn’t quite know how. In 2020, I decided to speak up and to stress how important it is for everyone to stand up for social injustice. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating our differences. Being different is what makes each of us the special people we are.”
This article originally appeared on harpersbazaar.com