On February 11, 2019, Japanese-Haitian-American tennis player Naomi Osaka, 21, took to Twitter to announce her split with her German-Serbian coach Sascha Bajin, 34. The two had worked together for 13 months.
Osaka is the United States Open Tennis Championships and Australian Open champion in women’s singles. She currently ranks number one in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, the first Asian player to achieve the rank in tennis.
Osaka was born in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan on October 16, 1997. Her father Leonard Francois is Haitian and her Japanese mother Tamaki Osaka is from Hokkaido, Japan.
It was Francois who first taught Naomi how to play tennis. He was inspired by watching Venus Williams, 38, and Serena Williams, 37, and compete at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France at the French Open in 1999.
In 2018, Naomi won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open by defeating Serena in the final. It made the former the first tennis player of Japanese descent to win a Grand Slam singles title and the youngest champion of the New York City-based hard court tennis tournament.
Naomi was three years old when her family moved from Japan to Long Island, New York, USA to live with her paternal grandparents. She currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
During the off-season in 2017, Naomi hired Bajin as her coach. On March 18, 2018, she claimed her first WTA title by defeating her Russian opponent Daria Kasatkina, 21, at the BNP Paribas Open, also known as the Indian Wells Masters, at Indian Wells, California, USA.
Like Naomi, Bajin also first learned tennis from his father. Before becoming a coach, Bajin was also a player who played for Iphitos Munich at the 2nd Tennis Bundesliga.
Bajin worked as Serena’s coach from 2007 to 2015. The WTA named him Coach of the Year in 2018 weeks before Naomi won the 2019 Australian Open, which took place at Melbourne Park in the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia from January 14-27, 2019.
Here is an interview with Osaka following her win at the Australian Open: