The Tokyo Olympics are underway after a unique and moving opening ceremony, and it was Naomi Osaka who officially set the event into motion when she lit the Olympic Cauldron.
The four-time Grand Slam champion and Japanese star received the honor, kicking off the international multi-sport event.
The Olympic Cauldron has been lit! 🔥@naomiosaka does the honours as the curtain rises on #Tokyo2020. #OpeningCeremony | #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/6bYlwnMDfh— Olympics (@Olympics) July 23, 2021
The World No.2 Osaka became the first tennis player to light the cauldron in Olympics history.
Osaka follows in the footsteps of other sporting legends to receive the honor, including, in recent years, American boxer Muhammad Ali, Australian track star Cathy Freeman and Korean figure skater Kim Yuna.
Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life. 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. pic.twitter.com/CacWQ5ToUD— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) July 23, 2021
Osaka's first-round match against Zheng Saisai of China will take place Sunday.
Words can’t describe this feeling. I have always been so incredibly proud to wear the flag of my country and this moment tops it all. I will remember it forever. My mask can never cover the huge smile on my face. Thank you for sharing this moment with me ❤️🇨🇿 pic.twitter.com/anANBUo4Au— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) July 23, 2021
Three other women's tennis players had integral parts in the opening ceremony, as they were chosen by their national delegations to carry their country's flags into the Olympic Stadium.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was one of the flagbearers for the Czech Republic, alongside men's basketball player Tomas Satoransky.
Your #Olympics flag bearer for Latvia, @JelenaOstapenk8 🇱🇻#Tennis | #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/OAR1yWaB0R— ITF (@ITFTennis) July 23, 2021
The 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko received the same honor from the Latvian team. Ostapenko carried the flag in with a men's basketball player as well, Agnis Cavars.
Veronica Cepede Royg, who reached the round of 16 at 2017 Roland Garros, was one of the flagbearers for Paraguay, along with golfer Fabrizio Zanotti.
🇵🇾 @verocepede 🇵🇾— ITF (@ITFTennis) July 23, 2021
Walking into the #Olympics like...#Tennis | #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/34VazIFfbJ
The tennis event begins Saturday in Tokyo with major champions Iga Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova among the first players in action.