Hours later, Osaka took to Twitter to express her gratitude for taking part in such an iconic tradition in her home country.
“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life,” she wrote in a post. “I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness.”
The Olympics will be Osaka’s first competition since she withdrew from the French Open in late May after saying she would not be doing press conferences at the event. The 23-year-old is scheduled to play 52nd-ranked Saisai Zheng of China on center court Sunday morning.
Ahead of the 2021 Olympics, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion and former No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player in the world spoke with Complex about her privilege as a celebrity.
“I want people to know I’m not defined by my sport. I’m defined by my cultures, my voice, my friends, and my passions,” she shared. “I want to be a part of the important yet hard conversations. I want to support the companies that take chances and do big things. More than anything, I want to be a good person and someone young people can look up to as an example. They should know that being different is your gift—it’s what makes you special.”