By Ashley Davis
Tennis champion Naomi Osaka is TAG Heuer’s newest brand ambassador.
New York—TAG Heuer’s selection of its newest brand ambassador says a lot about how it wants to modernize its image.

The luxury Swiss watchmaker has announced 23-year-old tennis champion Naomi Osaka as the latest addition to its roster of athlete spokespeople.

The biracial, multinational player was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father and has lived in the United States since she was 3 years old.

Osaka went pro in 2013, and as her star rose so did tennis fans’ admiration for her down-to-earth and humble on-court nature, particularly evident in post-match interviews.

The young upstart is the first Asian woman to reach the number one singles rank and has gone on to win another two Grand Slams so far.

She’s found her voice in the process.

Last summer, she was the most visible Black Lives Matter supporter in her sport.

Her willingness to forfeit a match in the Western & Southern Open in recognition of Jacob Blake’s shooting led to the United States Tennis Association’s suspension of play for a day, an unprecedented show of solidarity for the organization.

Osaka told reporters at the time, “If withdrawing from a tournament would cause the most stir, then that was something I needed to do. I don’t feel like I am being brave, I just feel like I am doing what I should be doing.”

Soon after at the U.S. Open, she donned face masks emblazoned with the names of Black people controversially killed in recent years, and whose names became rallying cries for 2020 protests: Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice.

Tennis legend Billy Jean King, an advocate for gender equality in the sport, remarked of Osaka, “She’s very quiet and calm, but internally she’s on fire and thinking about things. I really admire what she’s done. Sports is a platform, and women’s tennis, we are the leaders in women’s sports, and Naomi has really stepped up.”

Osaka is currently in Melbourne getting ready for the imminent Australian Open.

Expect to see her in TAG Heuer there and for the rest of 2021, including at the rescheduled 2020 Olympics, in which she will play for Japan. 

“I’m excited and honored to join TAG Heuer as brand ambassador,” Osaka said.

“It’s a partnership and friendship that exemplifies our shared mindset and values. The brand’s trailblazing approach with their ‘Don’t crack under pressure’ motto speaks to the way I live my life both on and off the court.”

TAG Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault added, “We are very proud to have Naomi join the TAG Heuer family. Her athletic record and commitment to excellence are outstanding but even more impressive is her passionate spirit and drive for advocacy, which is an inspiration to so many. We are excited to support Naomi as she kicks off her 2021 season and prepares for her Olympic debut.”

The watchmaker also recently announced the latest professional golfer addition to its cadre of athlete ambassadors.

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