Mari Osaka is a professional tennis player and the sister of fellow professional tennis player Naomi Osaka, who is playing Serena Williams in the final for the U.S. Open on September 7.
Naomi and Mari Osaka have been compared to Venus and Serena Williams in the past.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Mari Is a Year Older Than Her Sister Naomi
Mari Osaka is 22 years old, and her sister, Naomi, is 20 years old. The Osaka sisters were both born in Japan, and moved to Fort Lauderdale when Mari was four years old and Naomi was three years old.
Both of the Osaka sisters represent the country of Japan rather than the U.S., a decision that was reportedly due to the increased availability of funding by Japan. What’s more, both girls speak Japanese: Mari speaks it fluently, and Naomi can speak it conversationally.
2. Mari Is Currently Ranked #367 in the Singles Ranking
Mari has had trouble breaking the top 100 in the singles rankings for tennis, but she has still managed to earn $49,351. In comparison, Naomi is ranked #19 in the singles rankings and has earned $3.2 million. If Naomi wins the Open she will have earned another $3.8 million, and if she ends up earning the runner-up title she will have earned $1.8 million.
Mari has had a career-high ranking of #280, which she earned in 2017.
3. Mari & Naomi Have Repeatedly Drawn Comparisons to Venus & Serena Williams
As two sisters who are black women and professional tennis players (who have even played in doubles tournaments together), Mari and Naomi Osaka have repeatedly drawn comparisons to the infamous Williams sisters.
Brooke Marine of W Magazine wrote of the Osaka sisters, “Now, the Osaka sisters follow in the footsteps of Venus and Serena Williams, as two young sisters who are making waves in the field of professional tennis, and crushing their competition both on the court and on social media.”
To make the comparison even stronger, the Osaka sisters’ father, Leonard Francois, has cited Richard Williams as his idol for coaching. “The blueprint was already there,” Francois told The New York Times. “I just had to follow it.”
4. Naomi Has Cited Her Greatest Motivation as a Young Player Was to Beat Her Sister Mari
To The New York Times, Naomi said that her father made the sisters hit thousands of balls every day, and she didn’t really like playing tennis as a young child. But she did like beating her sister.
She said, “I don’t remember liking to hit the ball. The main thing was that I wanted to beat my sister. For her, it wasn’t a competition, but for me, every day was a competition. Every day I’d say, ‘I’m going to beat you tomorrow.’”
The New York Times notes that it took 12 years for Naomi to become better than her sister, whose career has been slowed by injury.
5. Naomi & Mari Took Their Mother’s Last Name as a ‘Practical Matter’
Naomi and Mari Osaka reportedly took the last name of their mother, Tamaki Osaka, instead of their father, as a “practical matter” for the early years spent in Japan.
Naomi said to Brook Larmer of The New York Times, “I don’t necessarily feel like I’m American. I wouldn’t know what that feels like.” She said later that her cultural hybrid heritage might potentially make her more relatable to fans, pointing out, “Maybe it’s because they can’t really pinpoint what I am, so it’s like anybody can cheer for me.”