Reigning champion Naomi Osaka has lit up Queens before launching her US Open defense.
The four-time Grand Slam champion returned to her roots today—the tennis courts at Detective Keith L. Williams Park in Jamaica, Queens where she and her older sister, Mari Osaka, grew up playing—to deliver a major makeover for the tennis community.
Osaka, her sister Mari Osaka and BodyArmor Lyte refurbished the tennis court facilities as a way to bring its US Open partnership to life beyond the tournament and inspire young athletes in the local Queens community where Osaka got her start.
In addition to a complete overhaul of the actual tennis facilities, BodyArmor collaborated with Mari Osaka on the development of a bold artwork bordering the courts that incorporates colors and symbols that are meaningful to the tennis champion. To bring Naomi and Mari’s creative vision to life, BodyArmor tapped New York graffiti artist, Mast, who helped embody the vibrant spirit of the community.
“I’ve seen first-hand how playing sports can have a positive impact on kid’s lives,” said Naomi Osaka. “It’s been extremely gratifying to collaborate with BodyArmor on revitalizing the very same tennis courts that I grew up playing on.
“And the fact that BodyArmor is also a Queens based company makes this initiative even cooler and more meaningful to me. The update to these courts means so much—local high schools use these for practice and competitions, the community comes here to play—the benefits will be long lasting.”
Born in Osaka, Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, Osaka’s first Grand Slam experience came as a kid growing up in New York attending the US Open.
“I was born in Osaka. I came to New York when I was three,” Osaka said in a past US Open interview. “I moved from New York to Florida when I was, like, eight or nine, and then I have been training in Florida since.
“My dad’s Haitian, so I grew up in a Haitian household in New York. I lived with my grandma. And my mom is Japanese. I group up with the Japanese culture, too.”
To officially unveil the new courts, BodyArmor partnered with Naomi Osaka’s foundation, Play Academy, to host “LYTE Up the Courts” a youth tennis clinic featuring participants from New York-based tennis organizations.
On a sticky summer day in Queens, the kids participated in several drills working on groundstrokes, volleys and serves as well as playing games. Osaka hit, offered some tips and chatted with community kids today during the official unveiling of the courts.
“Through our partnership with Naomi Osaka, BodyArmor has been able to give back to the Queens community, which holds a special place in our hearts,” said Michael Fedele, Vice President of Marketing at BodyArmor. “Being able to support this project is much bigger than the renovation itself. With the new courts, we’re not only able to provide an upgraded facility for the next generation of tennis players, we’re also investing in the future of the community we call home.”
In 2020, BodyArmor Lyte announced its multi-year partnership with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) which named BodyArmor Lyte as the Official Sports Drink of the US Open Tennis Championships.
Photo credit: BodyArmor