Naomi Osaka Calls Lighting Olympic Cauldron the 'Greatest' Honor: 'Filled with Gratefulness'

"I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now," Naomi Osaka said shortly after taking part in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony

Japan's Naomi Osaka holds the Olympic torch
Naomi Osaka. Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Shutterstock

Naomi Osaka is filled with gratitude.

Shortly after lighting the cauldron with the Olympic torch in Tokyo on Friday, the tennis star, 23, reflected on the momentous experience.

"Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life," she wrote on social media alongside a series of shots from the opening ceremony.

"I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness ❤️ love you guys thank you," she added.

Alongside a video documenting the moment she added, "Still trying to wrap my head around what just happened, crazy."

The torch was handed off several times on Friday after entering the stadium, including from New York Yankees legend Hideki Matsui and a Japanese doctor and nurse. Paralympian Tsuchida Wakako went on to pass the torch on to several local students, who in turn gave it to Osaka.

NBC Sports' Mike Tirico later said during the broadcast that Osaka's opening Olympics match was pushed back to Sunday so she could take part in the ceremony.

Osaka's mother, Tamika Osaka, is Japanese, and the tennis star is competing for the country in the women's singles tennis at the Games.

Naomi Osaka of Team Japan is handed the Olympic torch during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Naomi Osaka. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The big moment came shortly after she took a step back from the spotlight, citing her mental health, and opted to sit out the 2021 French Open and Wimbledon.

In her first match in nearly two months, Osaka is set to take on 52nd-ranked Saisai Zheng of China in the opening round of the Olympic tournament.

Djokovic also briefly referenced Osaka's decision to withdraw from recent tournaments after being fined $15,000 in May for not participating in media requirements and press conferences.

"She and Kei Nishikori carry a lot of responsibility and weight on their shoulders," Djokovic said of Osaka and Nishikori, a big name in men's tennis. "But [Osaka] has quite a lot of experience playing at the highest level, so I don't think you guys [the press] are going to cause a lot of trouble for her."

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.

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