Photo shows 8-year-old Naomi Osaka watching 22-year-old Rafael Nadal at 2006 US Open

  • An iconic photo showing an 8-year-old Naomi Osaka watching a 22-year-old Rafael Nadal competing at the 2006 US Open emerged on Twitter over the weekend.
  • Twitter user @miathermopol1s, who posted the photo, said the photo was from Aug. 23, 2006.
  • The image shows Osaka in the stands with her younger sister Mari Osaka, who also later competed in several WTA and ITF matches.
  • Osaka has previously spoken about her adoration of Nadal, telling WTA Tennis in April, "I know that every kid growing up playing tennis in the world has pretended to be Nadal at least once."
  • In the very stadium she watched the Spaniard, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Osaka won the US Open trophy some 12 years later.

An iconic photo featuring a very young Naomi Osaka watching a 22-year-old Rafael Nadal compete at the US Open is making the rounds on social media. 

In the image, the Japanese Haitian future WTA Tour champion can be seen in the stands right behind the Spanish tennis legend.

Twitter user @miathermopol1s, who posted the photo over the weekend, said the photo was from Aug. 23, 2006, which means Osaka was just a couple of months away from turning 9 years old at the time. 

The post, which has been retweeted over 600 times, has earned thousands of likes and many positive comments calling the image “cool” and “iconic.”

In the photo, the female tennis star was accompanied by her younger sister Mari Osaka, who also became a tennis player. Mari competed in several WTA and ITF matches before retiring last year and pursuing a career in fashion design.

Osaka has previously spoken about her adoration of Nadal, who she revealed in April was her inspiration for her first win on a clay court in 2022.

“I think I stole one of the things that he did and I’ve been practicing it recently,” Osaka told WTA Tennis.

She added, “I know that every kid growing up playing tennis in the world has pretended to be Nadal at least once.”

Osaka grew up to more than just emulate Nadal, as on the very stadium she watched the Spaniard, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, she would win the US Open trophy some 12 years later.


Osaka, who is currently recovering from an Achilles injury, is expected to return to the US Open later this year.

Featured Image via Rob Prange

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