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Naomi Osaka grows into leadership, on and off the court

23-year-old tennis star has world's ear like no Japanese athlete before

Japan's Naomi Osaka poses with the Australian Open trophy at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria on Feb. 21.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Winning the Australian Open on Saturday for her fourth Grand Slam title, Naomi Osaka has solidified her standing as one of the top tennis players in recent history. But her rise has not been limited to the court, as she emerges as a prominent voice on social issues including racism and gender equality.

"For us, it almost feels like she's gone somewhere beyond our reach. It's exciting to see that Japanese athletes can now have this sort of impact," Toshihisa Tsuchihashi, a top official at the Japan Tennis Association, said before the Australian Open finals.

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