Naomi Osaka Debuts Bright Red Braids as She Lights the Olympic Torch at Tokyo Opening Ceremony

The Japanese tennis player matched her hair to her country's flag for the start of the Tokyo Games

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

Naomi Osaka is looking patriotic for the Tokyo Olympics!

The champion tennis player, 23, lit up the stage at the opening ceremony on Friday night as the final torchbearer for the Olympic flame โ€” and with her newly red hair.

As Osaka, who competes for Japan, received the Olympic flame, she debuted long braids tinged with red and white, matching her country's flag.

Fans raved about Osaka's patriotic braids when she debuted the new look during the opening ceremony. "Watching @naomiosaka light the Olympic torch brings me so much joy!! And, her hair?!?! Get it, sis! ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿพ #TokyoOlympics#OpeningCeremony," one person tweeted.

Someone else said, "Can I just talk about my feels and how significant this is? She's a boss athlete exercising #mentalhealth well-being and celebrating and 'splaying multiracial heritage w the flawless hair choice. Weeerrrrk #NaomiOsaka ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€ #Tokyo2020."

Japan's Naomi Osaka holds the Olympic torch
Naomi Osaka. Hannah McKay/AP/Shutterstock; Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Shutterstock

The four-time Grand Slam champion will make her Olympic debut this year as she seeks a gold medal in women's singles tennis. Her opening match, against 52nd-ranked Saisai Zheng of China, will be her first in two months after she took a step back from the spotlight, citing her mental health, and opted to sit out the 2021 French Open and Wimbledon.

"Naomi won't be playing Wimbledon this year. She is taking some personal time with friends and family," her agent Stuart Duguid said in a statement in June ahead of the tennis tournament's June 28 start date.

"She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans," Duguid added.

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In a statement in late May, after withdrawing from the French Open, Osaka said that she deals with depression and anxiety, and needed time to work on her mental health.

"I'm gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans," she added.

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

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