Naomi Osaka 1st Asian American Woman to Be Named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year

Naomi Osaka 1st Asian American Woman to Be Named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year

December 10, 2020
Sports Illustrated has named tennis superstar Naomi Osaka as one of its “Sportspersons of the Year” for 2020, making her the first Asian American woman to be bestowed the honor.
Star-studded line-up: The popular Japanese-Haitian athlete shares the honor with NBA icon Lebron James, WNBA star Breanna Stewart, as well as NFL idols Patrick Mahomes and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff.
  • The honor represents not only their athletic achievement, but also efforts in shining a light on social justice issues during such a tumultuous year.
  • On top of her accomplishments this year, the feature recalled how Osaka honored Black victims of police violence or a racist attack during the U.S. Open by wearing their names in seven different masks. 
Subscribe to
NextShark's Newsletter

A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.

Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.

Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.

  • Osaka joins golf star Tiger Woods as the only Asian Americans to be honored with the title. 
  • Woods was named “Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year” in 1996 and again in 2001.
Finding her voice: In her written tribute to Osaka, iconic tennis star Martina Navratilova celebrated how the athlete found her voice this year.
  • “Much of what you get asked as an athlete is banal,” Navratilova wrote. “But here was an opportunity, as Naomi saw it, to use her fame and her voice to address something so much more important than winning a tennis tournament.”
  • Osaka, who often uses her platform to raise awareness on race relations, has even been called a “terrorist” for expressing her support for the Black Lives Matter, as NextShark previously reported. 
  • “I’ve seen from Naomi’s tweets and posts that she magnifies the issues she cares about. She’s using that bullhorn—the bullhorn that she never asked for—very wisely,” Navratilova further noted. She ended the tribute by saying that it was Naomi’s actions offline which made the biggest impact.
Feature Image via Getty
      Ryan General

      Ryan General is a Senior Reporter for NextShark




      Many people might not know this, but NextShark is a small media startup that runs on no outside funding or loans, and with no paywalls or subscription fees, we rely on help from our community and readers like you.

      Everything you see today is built by Asians, for Asians to help amplify our voices globally and support each other. However, we still face many difficulties in our industry because of our commitment to accessible and informational Asian news coverage.

      We hope you consider making a contribution to NextShark so we can continue to provide you quality journalism that informs, educates, and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for supporting NextShark and our community.

      © 2023 NextShark, Inc. All rights reserved.