Naomi Osaka and tennis-playing sister Marie are pitching in during the COVID-19 crisis, with the pair selling masks online in aid of Japan’s arm of the UNICEF children’s relief agency..

Vehicle for the effort to shift the USD 9 equivalent masks is the official website of Naomi, the former No. 1 who shot to prominence in 2018-2019 by winning the US and Australian Opens.

The 10th ranked player told Vogue magazine in the US that the idea came from Tokyo street fashion, where masks have always been a part of the scenery and not an emergency aid during worldwide pandemic.

“I was seeing everyone in the US wearing the same medical mask, and I remember in Japan even before this whole situation happened, everyone was wearing masks and they were quite fashionable,” half-Japanese Osaka said from her California quarantine base.

“So I wanted to release a mask that wasn’t just for protection, but could also be used as a fashion statement.”

The mask designs take major influences from the quiet Naomi’s interest in cartoons and stylised animals.

“Why wouldn’t you want a little animal on your thing so people can really understand how cute you truly are inside?” she said. 

“I remember when I was little when we would play tournaments in Tokyo, and every time we would go to Harajuku or Ginza or Shibuya. It was so cool to walk around and see everyone in so many different outfits that you wouldn’t necessarily see in America.”

Monies raised will go to help impoverished Japanese kids.

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