Gaming

Naomi Osaka explains why gaming is such a big part of her life

Naomi Osaka explains why gaming is such a big part of her life

tennis star Naomi Osaka wasn’t quite sure how much influence she had off the pitch until last year when she started talking about the impact the pressure of competition can have on her mental health. “I never realized the impact I had until I flew from [the] Tokyo airport after the Summer Olympics,” she said in a recent email interview. “So many other athletes were coming to thank me and I was a bit shocked, but also so grateful for the kind words and messages.”

Courtesy of Fortnite.

Now, Osaka is announcing another collab centered around one of his favorite off-court activities. Epic Games chose her to design a new version of the Fortnite Icon series, joining former collaborators Ariana Grande and James LeBron. On March 3, the game will launch a set of outfits inspired by her style, and she launches the collection on Tuesday on a Twitch stream with YouTuber and gamer Berleezy.

The collaboration makes perfect sense for Osaka, who is an avid gamer. “Gaming has always been such a big part of my life,” she said. “I like it because it brings back fond memories of growing up with my sister and playing together in the family home,” she said. “It’s also a big escape for me because I’ve always been into fantasy-type acting and storytelling.”

Courtesy of Fortnite.

Osaka’s sister, Husband, helped design the outfits for the collection, drawing influences from the sisters’ common Japanese and Haitian heritage. “I like to pay homage to both my Japanese and Haitian heritage, so this project gave me the opportunity to be inspired by both,” Osaka explained.

She also relished the opportunity to work with her sister on a project. “Mari is such a creative genius,” she said. “Now that she’s quit playing tennis, fashion and design collaborations are where we go to work together and bond. I often have ideas in my head and she brings them to life with her sketches. It’s really awesome and she’s amazing.

The end product.

Courtesy of Fortnite.

Fortnite is just the latest in a long line of collaborations for the four-time Grand Slam singles champion, and she said it helps her relax when she’s not playing tennis. “I really like having projects off the pitch because it focuses my mind on something creative and constructive,” she said. “As athletes, we don’t train 24 hours a day, so I like to have a completely separate take. [from] my day job. I’m so privileged with all the big partners I work with, like Fortnite, so I just try to have fun with it and not take anything for granted.

On March 2, Fortnite is hosting a Naomi Osaka Cup, where players can earn early access to Osaka’s Icon Series skins. But if there was a real-life Naomi award, Osaka would honor “honesty, integrity, humility and empathy,” she said. She followed the Winter Olympics and was especially proud of how an American athlete captured those qualities. “I couldn’t see many of them but I followed Mikaela Shiffrina little history of and I thought she behaved so well, it was super cool.

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