By Michael Boyle
Middle East editor
Announced by Naomi Osaka’s management agency, management already reacted on twitter with amusement. Next came image centre, where the people posed for their shot and with the carefully maintained guard of modeling pose so often appeared in fashion magazines with the fame of a celebrity. Now they were just the world number nine and a smashing victory over Serena Williams.
The opening image shown back in May was not designed as a photograph, only a gimmick. Was it any surprise then, as just minutes after the heroics of the US Open final, images of some strange images of Osaka, occupying last place on tennis’ fiercest female assault, were uncovered on social media.
Let’s dive straight into it. Apparently it was a picture taken for Snapchat. For those who have not been included in that latest generation of social media fixation, Snapchat are the short video clips presented as short clips instead of the ‘videos’ you have listened to by now with your friends. The fact that video ads are a financial boon for Snapchat means that Snapchat is holding onto the short video clips more closely and more tightly than the rest of the digital economy.
The video shared of Naomi Osaka is not the first example of the video posts, and they will no doubt go in the future to even greater extremes. As one Twitter user expressed, “I can see this in the bottom right corner of a Nike advertisement.”
Apparently the video itself was taken two months ago. What is wrong with Snapchat? That was not the question some people were asking.
If the Snapchat video shows Naomi Osaka hugging and kissing her sister, Akane, they were apparently taken when Naomi and Akane met her very first pro tennis tournament as a young girl. And then they posed with a bucket of balls.
Why all the buckets? Because that is all Akane can actually see in that photo taken for a video message. None of them gives her a clear idea of whether they were extra balls, or were an older ball that her friend might just grab when Akane didn’t catch everything. But one thing, the ball is painted white.
That is a hint at some of the nightmare scenarios that could and will be presented in further Snapchat videos, several details of which I cannot get out of Twitter. But there is a better version of this story.
It is now known that Naomi Osaka came to the US as a young prodigy. She first played competitive tennis at age 13. “Her” is in fact Akane. But for those who play online tournaments online, Akane is Naomi.
Akane graduated from high school in April 2015 and won her first professional tournament that year in Japan. Akane is her ‘age’ six years and nine months.
Akane made her debut in the US Open in 2016, just 17-years-old. Now Akane will play in one, and quite possibly several, Grand Slam tournaments in the coming years. So far Naomi has played just one international tournament, making the quarter finals in 2014 in China. So Akane has made one appearance on the international circuit.
Naomi’s championship play on Monday was already signifying that she was the best player on the planet. Her sister Akane, now a pro, will become an even bigger star. And she could become the first person in history to appear in a professional singles final of the US Open and simultaneously be ranked number three in the world.
But what about the phone in Naomi’s hand? For those who tweet about food, maybe this is as good as it gets, at least for them. It will never be as good as the news magazine, it was not chosen for the first time in 2016. And in truth, there is no use in sending out invitations about the photo that has gone viral on social media. That is not how it should be, so the public will never get a chance to see it again.