Sports

Tennis champion Naomi Osaka inspires manga character

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has inspired a new manga character who will debut in Nakayoshi magazine next month.

The three-time Grand Slam winner shared a picture of her character on Twitter on Sunday – complete with pink hair, an orange visor and a tennis racket.

Osaka, the world’s highest-paid female athlete, said she and her sister grew up reading manga and were excited about the new comic.

Her sister, Mari Osaka, has been involved with the character’s creation.

“Growing up reading manga/watching anime was something that bonded me and my sister immensely so this is really exciting for both of us,” the tennis champion tweeted on Sunday.

Nakayoshi said the new manga, called “Unrivalled Naomi Tenkaichi”, will be unveiled in the issue released on 28 December.

A previous attempt to portray Naomi Osaka – who has a Japanese mother and a Haitian father – as a cartoon character in an animated advert was quickly embroiled in controversy.

The noodle company Nissin was accused of “whitewashing” the star in the drawing by depicting her with white skin and light brown hair.

“I’m tan, it’s pretty obvious,” Ms Osaka told a press conference last year, adding that the company had apologised to her directly.

The athlete has been a popular endorsement figure in Japan but she has also been the target of intense racism.

Earlier this year Ms Osaka displaced her US tennis rival Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete.

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