33 years ago, the Nike Air Max introduced visible air, setting new standards by shattering existing ones. This season we're highlighting the athletes, artists and challengers who are doing the same.
The next generation of athletes are often told that to be great, they have to be made in the same mould as the greats who preceded them. Naomi Osaka has no interest in fitting into the mould—she's too busy breaking it. She went from relative unknown to one of the best tennis players in the world by doing it her way. "I got to this stage by being myself, and I should keep doing that", Naomi said.
There's an expectation that elite athletes perform with an edge, a focused aggression that overwhelms their opponents. Naomi channels her energy through serenity. "When I play within myself, I'm just very calm. It's the complete opposite of anger", Naomi said. Her on-court tranquillity translates to her approach off the court, where she is even-keeled and measured in post-game interviews. There is no switch for Naomi; what you see is what you get. "I'm 100% myself. Everything comes from my heart, and there's no filter", she says.
"I got to this stage by being myself, and I should keep doing that".
Naomi exists in a space without comparison and challenges the idea that athletes need to be hyper-focused on the result. She allows herself to be a part of the process. "I don't really think too much about how I want something to happen. I kind of let the events unfold", Naomi said. By breaking the mould, Naomi is creating her own path to greatness and inspiring the next generation to embrace the unknown and define the future for themselves.