The color of the summer? Absolutely.
Competing as part of Team Japan in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, tennis player Naomi Osaka was given the honor to light the Olympic Cauldron, essentially the finale of the 2021 Opening Ceremony. As the event took place on July 23, fans got a close look at Osaka’s brand new red hair, which she first debuted just a day earlier. Unsurprisingly, she rocks it. I mean, come on... she rocks everything.
Carrying the lit Olympic torch and dressed in Team Japan’s white and red uniform, Osaka wore long box braids with bright red and white strands laced in, courtesy of celebrity hairstylist Marty Harper. Her hair was styled half-up, half-down, with some pulled up into a matching red and white scrunchie, save for a few braids framing her face. The look is a stark difference from Osaka’s usual darker balayage. Not only is the look a perfect, subtle display of team spirit, but it’s just so fun and suits her so well.
Osaka was also seen with her new red hair on July 22, during a tennis practice prior to the start of the games. This time gathered at the crown of her head with a green scrunchie, her braids flipped around her and the red shined under the sun. Is this the ideal summer hair color? IMHO, yes. Yes it is.
Lighting the Olympic Cauldron was likely an emotional moment for Osaka and her fans, particularly after the difficult hoops she’s had to jump through as of late. During the 2021 French Open tournament, which began in May 2021, Osaka dealt with a tense few days of controversy when she declined to participate in a press conference in an effort to practice self-care, to care for her mental health, and to avoid anything that could negatively affect her game-play. Following Osaka’s decline to participate in the press conferences, which the French Open has deemed were a mandatory part of the players’ responsibilities, Osaka was fined $15,000 by French Open referee Rémy Azémar. Officials alluded to more serious consequences if Osaka did not complete these obligations, according to The New York Times.
Then, on May 31, 2021, Osaka announced in another statement that she would pull out of the 2021 French Open Tournament citing the need to prioritize her mental wellbeing and to return public attention to the ongoing tournament itself.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly,” Osaka wrote. “The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that. Anyone that knows me knows I am introverted, and anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety. Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.”
Osaka continued that she had already begun “feeling vulnerable and anxious” during the tournament and, because of that, thought it best to “exercise self-care.” “I wrote privately to the tournament apologizing and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the Slams are intense,” she said. “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. Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I’ll see you when I see you.”
Seeing Osaka now, honored with a high role in the Opening Ceremony and playing at the prestigious games with fiery red hair to boot, fans are undoubtedly ecstatic to see the tennis champion thriving and can’t wait to see her stellar performance.