Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka was just given one of the Olympics‘ greatest honors: lighting the cauldron to close the opening ceremonies in Tokyo. It’s an activity that takes place at the end of the torch relay and signifies the beginning of the games, and Naomi, who is likely to take home gold this year, celebrated this incredible achievement while wearing a bright red lip that matched her equally bright and bold braids.
“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life,” Naomi wrote on Instagram, sharing photos of the major moment. “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 also shared a video of herself lighting the cauldron, writing, “Still trying to wrap my head around what just happened, crazy.”
Naomi wore a “Tokyo 2020” tee shirt and shorts to perform the time-honored ritual and wore her hair in long scarlet box braids. While most of her hair was pulled up in a high ponytail, Naomi kept a few braids loose near her face, and they perfectly coordinated with her light red lipstick and the bursts of red on her shirt and shorts.
The tennis star is playing on Team Japan in this year’s games, not Team USA; she was born there and said in 2019 that she would play on behalf of her birth country, giving up her dual citizenship to do so. The red braids with small hints of white, plus the red and white scrunchie she wore, may be a nod to the red-and-white Japanese flag. “It’s definitely going to be very special. I think there’s no other place that I’d rather play my first Olympics,” she said at the time. “I think that will be one of the most memorable things that ever happens to me.”
Naomi plays her first match on Saturday, July 24 in the Women’s Singles kickoff and games will take place throughout the following week.
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