Almost a year ago, Naomi Osaka became a household name when she defeated her idol Serena Williams in the U.S. Open and became the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. Heading into the 2019 U.S. Open next week, she’s ranked as the no. 1 female tennis player in the world.
The 21-year-old has been slowly settling into her stardom, nabbing magazine covers, appearing on The Ellen Show, signing deals with Nike and Shiseido, and now, becoming the face of the bareMinerals’ BarePRO Performance Wear Foundation collection. “It’s long-lasting and it’s sweat-proof, which is really a necessity for me because I actually sweat a lot,” she says.
In honor of the new gig, ELLE.com had a few minutes to sit down with Osaka before she heads into a whirlwind of competition to discuss her beauty routine, off-court style, and how she’s changing the game for women in tennis.
She always wears her hair in a bun for good luck.
Some tweets last year noted that Osaka always wins game when her hair is in a bun, originally she didn’t notice it. “I started wearing my hair in a bun during the U.S. Open because it was so hot here [in New York] last year. Before that, I wore my hair in a ponytail, but it just kept hitting my face,” she says. “I wasn’t even doing it for superstition, but now it is kind of ‘a thing’ that I do!”
She doesn’t like to think of herself as an inspiration.
“I wouldn’t be as bold to say that I am,” she says, when we ask her about she and Serena Williams opening doors up for women of color in tennis. “I can’t really say that because I’m not really looking from the outside view. Hopefully, down the line, I can impact people the way that other people have impacted me. I wouldn’t be playing tennis without those people.”
She has no clue how to do a cateye.
Osaka enjoys wearing a little black liner on the court, but for the most part favors a more natural approach to makeup. One technique that she’s been testing out is a cateye—with mixed results. “I don’t think it looks that great with my eyes because I have hooded eyes,” she says. “It’s been a moment trying to figure out what I should do about that. I definitely tried to use a YouTube video. I actually let my sister try, and I didn’t like it at all.”
She calls her hair the “most time-consuming” part of her day…
“Hair is such a big part of my life. On the days that I have time, I can actually take care of it and not just stick it in a bun and leave the house,” she says. “That’s the most time-consuming part of my day. You can put a little bit of oil in it to moisturize it and actually let it dry instead of making it crunch up.”
…and learning to love her hair has been a long journey.
“It’s something I incorporate into my identity,” Osaka says. “There’s some people that only know me for my hair. It’s definitely something that I’ve learned to love because when I was younger I didn’t really like my hair at all. I am learning to like it every year, as the years pass.”
Her number one most-used beauty product is sunscreen.
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how much time she spends in the sun. “I use the Shiseido Anessa,” she says. “I like that it’s very soft. It’s a very gentle sunscreen. Some sunscreens you put on, they’re very heavy, but this one is very light, and you don’t really feel like it’s that sticky.”
This interview has been condensed for clarity.