It’s Naomi’s World: Osaka Guest Edits Racquet

Naomi Osaka (photo: @racquetmag/Instagram)

WASHINGTON, August 24, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Racquet, the New York-based literary quarterly that celebrates the art, ideas, style and culture surrounding tennis, is out with its latest edition, Issue No. 17, which is a very special effort that showcases its guest editor, Naomi Osaka.

Here’s how Naomi described the issue in an email to subscribers:

“The issues isn’t all about me. It’s about my world. I feel like this is a different lens to see my orbit from – a more interesting one for the reader. Everyone one knows most of my answers to the standard questions by now, so there’s not much more I can add to my biography or tennis results So asking Racquet to write about and illustrate my world, I hope, will allow people to see me from a different perspective. I felt it was time to offer a commentary on the culture around the periphery of tennis, rather than forehands and backhands. The edition touches on things I’m interested in like fashion, travel, art and photography, so there was so much potential to broaden the context in which I’m seen.”

Racquet published one of the first profiles about Osaka, in the fall of 2016, before she made much of a mark on the pro tennis world. “I think it was interesting back then because most people didn’t know me or my story,” she wrote, “but now it’s been told so many times it’s starting to lose its relevance, so I’m excited to do something different and fresh.

“There have been a lot of newspaper columns devoted to my personal story,” Osaka adds, “so for me it’s time to turn the page and talk about cool stuff that we can all relate to together.”

For the cover of the quarterly, Osaka chose the Nigerian visual artist Dennis Osadebe. “I have a few pieces of his in my house and I think he’s awesome,” writes Osaka. “As for the rest of the magazine in your hands, the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, so I have no preconceived ideas about what anyone will take away from this project. I hope there’s a broad enough spectrum here that there’s something that everyone can relate to, or enjoy consuming.”

Among the features included in the issue: A profile of Osaka by Thessaly La Force; a look at Naomi’s fashion philosophy by Jessica Iredale, and an article by Kenji Hall on how the Japanese superstar’s political activism is perceived in Japan, the country of her birth.

Venus Williams into US Open main draw

Seven-time major champion Venus Williams earned direct entry to the main draw of the US Open following the withdrawal of Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium on Monday.

The 147th-ranked Williams, who is a two-time US Open champion (2000-01) was among eight wild card entries anounced by the USTA last week. She was ranked No. 112 at the entry deadline, putting her as the fourth alternate to the main draw. This year, Williams will be making her 15th consecutive US Open main draw appearance and 23rd overall.

As a result, 20-year-old American Alycia Parks of Port St. Lucie, Fla. has received the wild card initially allocated to Williams.

Flipkens, 35, withdrew from the US Open due to a left ankle injury.

• US Open men’s and women’s singles qualifying begins Tuesday. The 128-player men’s and women’s qualifying draws will be whittled down to 16 each by Friday. The qualifiers will be placed in the main draws of the US Open, which commences play on Monday, Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Tauson wins Chicago Tennis Festival 125

The two-week WTA Chicago Tennis Festival reached the midway point Sunday with the crowning of the WTA 125K champion. The title was won by Danish teenager Clara Tauson, woh defeated wild card Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, in a two-hour and 15-minute battle of 18-year-olds.

“I fought for every single point even though I was down almost all of the third set,” Tauson said, quoted by the WTA website. “Today, I just wanted to fight for every point and see what I could do, because she’s playing so well.”

Earlier this year, Tauson won her first WTA tour-level title at Lyon on an indoor hard court and Raducanu, a recent Wimbledon Championships wild card, enjoyed a run to the round of 16 in her Grand Slam main draw debut.

Tauson has gone from World No. 152 at the end of 2020 to a career-high No. 77 after winning her fourth trophy overall this year. Besides Chicago and Lyon, she won a pair of ITF W25 events in Fujairah and Altenkirchen at the beginning of the season.

The WTA Chicago Tennis Festival, a newly added event this year, continues this week with the Chicago Women’s Open on an outdoor hard court at XS Tennis Village on the city’s South Side. The 250-series 32-draw singles and 16 team-draw doubles events run through Saturday.

The field is led by World No. 6 and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who received a wild card and is the top seed, and Olympic silver medalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic is also in the draw. Both were in action Monday.  The No. 1 seed Svitolina won by retirement over 91st-ranked Clara Burrel of France, 7-5, 1-6, 2-0, retired. The No. 5 seed Vondrousova advanced with a 6-0, 6-2 win over 467th-ranked American qualifier Quinn Gleason.

Tennis in the Land brings the WTA to Cleveland

This year marks the debut of Tennis in the Land, a WTA 250 outdoor hard court event, a last tune-up for many before next week’s US Open.

The Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, along the waterfront in downtown Cleveland, presents tennis in a unique and colorful setting with the main court under a sweeping canopy.

There are two Top 30 players in the 32-player singles draw, led by top seed Daria Kasatkina, ranked No. 27, who advanced to the second round over No. 109 Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, 6-3, 6-3, and No. 2 seed Annette Kontaveit. The Estonian, ranked 30th, took on local favorite Lauren Davis of the United States, who is from Gates Mills, Ohio, on Monday evening and won 1-6, 6-0, 6-0.

The 32-player singles event and 16-team doubles event runs through Saturday.

Tennis meets fashion … but first, coffee

There’s something cool about the photos on Jannik Sinner‘s Instagram feed. Take for instance, last week, Sinner posted a casually-attired black & white photo of himself posing with a cup of Lavazza coffee, one of his sponsors. Another one showed him celebrating his 20th birthday recently with a custom-made pizza gifted him at the Western & Southern Open.


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A post shared by Jannik Sinner (@janniksin)

French connection in Chicago

On Monday at the Chicago Women’s Open, there was definitely a French connection on court, and all three of them – Kristina Mladenovic, Alizé Cornet and Fiona Ferro – won their opening-round matches.

Worth a good read: Billie Jean King, ‘All In’

“Quotable …”

“It’s very difficult to play against a legend – my favorite legend – I always love her so much! Very cute, very nice person off the court as well. Wow, it was the first time to play Venus, so I better play good. I wanted to be good on court.”

Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan, after defeating Venus Williams 6-2, 6-3 in the opening round of the WTA 250 Chicago Women’s Open  Monday evening.

What they’re sharing on social media

The Chicago skyline is the star as many players who are in the Second City to play in the Chicago Tennis Festival tournaments posted photos of themselves taken along the Lake Michigan waterfront.

Kristina Mladenovic, France

Emma Raducanu, Great Britain


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A post shared by Emma Raducanu (@emmaraducanu)

Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, Colombia


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A post shared by Camila Osorio (@_camilaosorio_)