Naomi Osaka becomes first female athlete to partner with Fortnite’s Icon Series

The 24-year-old told Vanity Fair she has been gaming since childhood as an escape

One of tennis’ brightest stars, Naomi Osaka isn’t just a gamer on the court — she’s also an avid video game player. Osaka is now the latest to join Fortnite’s Icon Series with a signature collection of in-game outfits and accessories.

As reported by AfroTech, Osaka became the first female athlete to join the popular game’s roster of cultural icons including LeBron James, Anderson .Paak and more following Epic Games’ announcement on Feb. 28. 

“I’ve been playing Fortnite for a long time — when I saw LeBron had joined the Icon Series, it made me want to join the Fortnite family too,” Osaka said, per AfroTech. “It’s really amazing to be able to connect with so many people around the world.”

Officially launched on Thursday, March 3, two new Osaka-inspired outfits, each with two colorways, are now available in-game. According to Osaka, each look represents one side of her mixed Japanese and Haitian heritage. 

The “Naomi Osaka Outfit” is a pink and blue ensemble accompanied with the “Royale Racket Pickaxe” and “The Queen’s Cloudcarriage Glider,” as well as an alternate style called the “Court Queen” look, according to Epic Games.

The “Dark Priestess Naomi Outfit” includes the “Portalforger Paddle Pickaxe” and the “Cursed Hazeboard Glider,” as well as the “Neon Princess’ alternate style, per the game development company.

“I love paying homage to both my Japanese and Haitian heritage so this project gave me the opportunity to be inspired by both,” Osaka told Vanity Fair, adding that both styles were designed with help from her sister, Mari.

“Mari is such a creative genius,” Osaka said. “Now that she has stopped playing tennis, fashion and design collabs are where we go to work together and bond. I often have the ideas in my head and she brings them to life with her sketches. It really is such a blast and she is amazing.”

The four-time Grand Slam champion told the outlet that she has also been a passionate gamer since childhood, providing her an outlet to unwind when not training or pursuing her many other talents including fashion design and entrepreneurship.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 21: Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a forehand in her third round singles match against Amanda Anisimova of United States during day five of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“Gaming has always been such a huge part of my life,” Osaka said, adding: “I like it because it brings back great memories of growing up with my sister and gaming together in the family home,” she said. “Also it is a great escapism for me as I have always been into gaming and fantasy-type storytelling.”

The day before the launch of Osaka’s in-game outfits on Thursday, Fortnite held a “Naomi Osaka Cup” which allowed players to compete in a tournament to unlock the exclusive looks before they were released.

“The Icon Series is the ultimate celebration of the most dynamic figures in culture for Fortnite’s audience of millions, and there’s no one more perfect than Naomi Osaka to join the series as the first female athlete,” Nate Nanzer, global vice president of partnerships at Epic Games, said in a statement, as reported by AfroTech.

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