My parents played tennis as a hobby. That influenced me to give it a go. I loved playing straight away. From then, it very quickly became my childhood dream to some day make it as a professional tennis player.
Nowadays, I play because I want to keep getting better. That drive is a key part of why I play the game. The chance to challenge myself against players who are better than me and to hopefully beat them. Each challenge and each victory pushes you to the next level and that helps you to keep pushing yourself.
That’s what makes a great game for me. When both me and my opponent are playing a high level of tennis in front of a big crowd and I’m enjoying every moment of it.
My best so far
I’m always trying to improve. But I’ve already had some personal achievements I’m really proud of. Getting a personal best of number 30 in the world rankings really stands out. Reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon, winning two WTA titles (Luxembourg, San Antonio), finishing as runner-up at two WTA events (Kaoshiung, Taipei) and winning doubles at Istanbul and Newport Beach. All of those are big moments for me. If I had to pick one, it would definitely be winning at Luxembourg.
Each challenge and each victory pushes you to the next level and that helps you to keep pushing yourself.
JapanCountry of Birth
29 April 1991Age
5'3" / 159Height (ft/cm)
Left handed, two handed backhand
Day in. Day out.
It’s important to me to be in really good shape before I step onto the court. So every day I follow a standard routine. I start with stretching, core exercises and short sprints. Tennis is a really dynamic sport so I have to make sure my body is ready. That can really help to prevent injury and to hopefully improve my performance. When you improve physically, that makes you mentally stronger too.
My pro tips
I’d encourage anyone coming into the game to just believe in themselves. If you truly believe in yourself, you’ll be unstoppable. That belief can certainly take a dent if you suffer a defeat, or just have a bad day on the practice courts. Everyone has their own way of picking themselves up. I like to treat myself to some delicious food, that works for me. It helps to have role models and aims too. I’ve always looked up to Justine Henin. And I’ve always had the dream of winning a Grand Slam. My dream would be to win at Wimbledon, that’s the one that’s always meant the most to me. Just being on court there makes me feel like my soul has been cleansed. These are the things that drive me – the desire to achieve my dreams, both on and off the court.
There’s a great quote from Jerry Rice that encapsulates my approach to those things. “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” That sums up everything we do and helps me consistently maintain a high level of tennis.
It’s obviously hard keeping a sense of normality when we’re travelling. But then tennis has been part of my life since I was a child, so it’s not that much of an issue. It’s the life I know. I’m lucky I have a close family and my coach, Chris, to help keep me grounded when I need it.
Plus the travelling gives me a great excuse to try out new restaurants, Japanese is one of my favourite types of food. I also swim regularly to keep me in shape and to de-stress.
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