Costume Institute Announces Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman and Naomi Osaka as Met Gala Co-Chairs



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Naomi Osaka started Play Academy to level the playing field. Now it’s growing

Naomi Osaka is a record breaker. She was ranked number one by the Women’s Tennis Association and the first Asian player to be ranked first in singles. She is also the first female player of Japanese descent to win a Grand Slam (she won four). But before I even speak to her, I know that she doesn’t take herself too seriously: her very TikTok presence is proof of that. So Osaka’s latest venture makes sense. The tennis pro is teaming up with Nike and Laureus Sport for Good to expand Play Academy with Naomi Osaka, a business she launched last summer that aims to increase girls’ participation in sports. The program was first launched in Osaka, Japan, where the tennis player was born. Now the program is expanding both to Los Angeles, where Osaka now lives and trains, and Haiti, where his father is from. “I am extremely proud to work with community organizations to champion this cause in places that I have a personal connection to,” Osaka told Refinery29. “We know that a lot of girls don’t have the same opportunities as boys when it comes to playing sports,” Osaka continues. “Things like cultural differences and the lack of female role models who play sports or of coaches who understand what girls need can get in the way. Girls deserve the same opportunities to play sports, and that’s what I hope to offer them through Play Academy. In Japan, Play Academy provided grants and gender training to three community-based organizations that empower girls through their sports programs, Osaka says. Now, as Play Academy grows, she seeks new partnerships with community organizations in Los Angeles that strive to ensure that young girls from Black, Asian and Latin communities have more opportunities to enjoy the game. game and sport. According to a press release, Play Academy will also partner with GOALS Haiti to reach under-represented youth – 90% of whom they say have never played sports before. “It has been very touching to see how Play Academy is making a difference in the lives of girls, and being able to reach out to different communities that I hold dear is truly rewarding,” says Osaka. The tennis professional knows firsthand how important the game can be. “Growing up, I saw my mom working incredibly hard to support me and my passion for the game,” she says. “She taught me that if you believe in something you should go for it and still embrace your diversity… I am always learning to be the best role model I can be by trying to stay humble, staying true to my beliefs and helping others as much as I can. For now, Osaka is determined to continue championing Play Academy’s message and work to the world. “Girls can be so powerful no matter who they are, where they are from or what color their skin is,” she says. “Maybe one day they will look around you and realize that they have also become role models, paving the way for other girls and their communities, and helping to create a more equitable future. Like what you see? How about a little more R29 goodness, here? Outdoor adventure sports are not inclusive enough Naomi Osaka makes her own sunscreen when sport, running and activism collide



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