Naomi Osaka and Billie Jean King talk candidly about grand slams and positive change
The three-time Grand Slam winner meets the trailblazing icon for a wide-ranging talk on sports, equality, and breaking the mold as a female tennis player. Hear their thoughts on Roland Garros, the challenges of pushing for social change, and the unique strength it takes to break through barriers.
Becoming a professional athlete is a rare enough feat, but it takes a special person to reach the pinnacle of a sport. Rarer still are those who use their platform to effect positive change in the world, as Naomi Osaka and Billie Jean King have done for their respective generations.
The two athletes—one just reaching her potential, and another whose legacy is well established—joined each other to talk about just that during an exclusive Mastercard Priceless Conversation.
It would be hard to find more influential athletes in any era. While Osaka is now known as one of the most electrifying tennis stars to watch, her career first took flight soon after turning pro. She was named the winner of the 2016 Newcomer of the Year award and also racked up Grand Slam singles titles in 2018, 2019, and 2020, thanks to her powerful serve, strong forehand, and composure in high-pressure situations.
As the daughter of a Japanese mother and Haitian father, Osaka is the first Asian player to hold the No. 1 ranking in singles and the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam. But her accomplishments on the court are matched by her off-court efforts.
Not only has she been outspoken on the topic of equality and racial justice—she's also launched The Play Academy with Naomi Osaka. Beginning in Japan with plans for further expansion, the academy is designed to improve girls' lives through play and sport with fun, positive experiences, and a focus on gender-inclusive coaching and programming. During the most recent US Open, Osaka used her face masks and platform to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Billie Jean King's impact transcends tennis and sports. Recognized as one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by Life magazine and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, King made her Grand Slam debut in 1959. A stellar career followed, with an astonishing 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles.
As the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation, King has worked for women's rights throughout her life. The Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, which she launched in 2014, has the goal of "creating a world where workplaces are free of discrimination and inequality." And in 2020, King became the first woman to have an annual global team sports event named in her honour when the Fed Cup—the women's world cup of tennis—was renamed the Billie Jean King Cup.
In this candid, wide-ranging conversation, these two transformative women cover topics such as Roland Garros, empowerment, and sports as a platform for social change. Hear them discuss the amazing feeling of winning in tennis—especially a Grand Slam—and their ongoing efforts toward racial justice and gender equality. Their words will inspire you as they share how they summoned the courage to challenge the status quo and stand up for themselves and others.
“The biggest thing that I've learned over the years is that everyone has a story. And I feel like it's important for people to talk and converse about the things that they feel are important to them,” explained Osaka.
“This is such a great sport; it should belong to everybody and so I promised myself that day I would champion equality the rest of my life” noted King.
Find out more about Osaka through her special partnership with Priceless.com, which includes her favorite recipes and a chance to impress her with your best trick shot.