Japan Data

Ōsaka Naomi’s Rise to World Number One


Two consecutive wins in the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open set Ōsaka Naomi on top of the tennis world.

Ōsaka Naomi’s two consecutive Grand Slam victories at the September 2018 US Open and the January 2019 Australian Open lifted her to top spot in the Women’s Tennis Association world rankings. She is the first Asian, including both women and men, to head the list.

Her back-to-back singles titles were also the first since 2015, when Serena Williams completed a run of four consecutive Grand Slam wins for the second time. In 2017 and 2018, there were different winners for each of the eight women’s singles Grand Slam titles, so Ōsaka’s two consecutive wins has her fans hoping she can become a true queen of tennis and dominate the sport.

As the French Open will be held from May 26 and Wimbledon from July 1, there is interest to see if she can keep her world number one ranking.

Ōsaka made her professional debut in 2013. In 2016, she took part in the Australian Open, her first ever Grand Slam tournament, where she progressed as far as the third round. In 2018, she made her real breakthrough in a tremendous year. She won her first career title in March at the BNP Paribas Open, which ranks just below the Grand Slam tournaments in importance. Then in September, she defeated her childhood idol Serena Williams in the final of the US Open to take the title. The WTA ranking announcement on September 10 found her in seventh place, her first entry into the top 10. The next month, she rose to fourth place. Then in January 2019, with her victory at the Australian Open, she took first place.

Since the current ranking system started, other Japanese players that have entered the top 10 include the women’s singles player Date Kimiko and men’s singles player Nishikori Kei, who both rose as high as fourth place, while Sugiyama Ai ranked first in the women’s doubles ranking.

Grand Slam Women’s Singles Winners and Ōsaka Naomi’s Results from 2016 Onwards

Australian Open French Open Wimbledon US Open
2014 Na Li (CHN) Maria Sharapova (RUS) Petra Kvitová (CZE) Serena Williams (USA)
2015 Serena Williams (USA) Serena Williams (USA) Serena Williams (USA) Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
2016 Angelique Kerber (GER) Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) Serena Williams (USA) Angelique Kerber (GER)
3R 3R 3R
2017 Serena Williams (USA) Jeļena Ostapenko (LVA) Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) Sloane Stephens (USA)
2R 1R 3R 3R
2018 Caroline Wozniacki (DNK) Simona Halep (ROM) Angelique Kerber (GER) Ōsaka Naomi (JPN)
4R 3R 3R Win
2019 Ōsaka Naomi (JPN) To be held from May to June To be held in July To be held from August to September

Compiled by Nippon.com based on information from the Women’s Tennis Association website and various news sources. Highlighted boxes indicate Ōsaka’s results.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Ōsaka Naomi plays in the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open Tennis in September 2018. © Jiji.)

sports tennis Nishikori Kei Osaka Naomi