Naomi Osaka's boyfriend Cordae has admitted that he had no idea she was a tennis star when they first met, explaining he was only familiar with V
Naomi Osaka’s boyfriend Cordae has admitted that he had no idea she was a tennis star when they first met, explaining he was only familiar with Venus and Serena Williams at the time.
The three-time Grand Slam champion and the Grammy-nominated rapper, both 23, opened up about their two-year relationship as the cover stars of GQ’s Modern Love issue. In their interview, Cordae shared that he knew very little about tennis before they started dating.
‘It’s not my sport,’ said the musician, who was born Cordae Amari Dunston. ‘If you asked me about tennis, before being immersed in it because of Naomi, I could only give you Venus and Serena Williams, you know? Because they’re just a part of the culture.’
Look of love: Tennis star Naomi Osaka and her rapper boyfriend Cordae opened up about their two-year relationship in GQ’s Modern Love issue
The couple had their first date two years ago at a Los Angeles Clippers game, where Cordae was recognized by fans.
‘I just remember seeing that there were so many people who wanted to take a picture with him,’ Naomi said. ‘And I just thought it was really cool how friendly and welcoming he was with everyone.’
They kept their relationship private for nearly a year, but that changed when Cordae was spotted cheering on his girlfriend at the 2019 U.S. Open.
‘I don’t know if I ever told Naomi this or not, but I felt really out of place,’ he recalled. ‘Like, that was my first time being in an environment like that in my entire life.
Say what? Cordae, 23, admitted he had no idea Naomi, 23, was a tennis star when they first met, saying: ‘It’s not my sport’
Honest: The Grammy-nominated musician said he was only familiar with tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams (left and right) at the time
Champion: Naomi, who is from Japan, is the third ranked female tennis player in the world
‘My elementary school, middle school, high school was 99.9 per cent Black. Kids who look like me. It just felt really weird for me being in that space. That was my first tennis match ever.’
Naomi, who is ranked the third-best female tennis player in the world, said there was an adjustment period at the ‘beginning’ of their relationship because Cordae has ‘such a completely different work style’ than she does.
‘I start super early in the morning, and then I end late afternoon. But I feel like for him everything starts at night,’ she explained. ‘So it was kind of hard to adjust to that in the beginning.
‘But when I did, I felt pretty comfortable,’ she added. ‘I wouldn’t say there was a moment where I felt like he did when he went to the Open or anything like that.’
Looking back: Cordae admitted he ‘felt really out of place’ cheering Naomi on at the 2019 U.S. Open (pictured), saying it was his ‘first tennis match ever’
Looking back: Cordae sat between Colin Kaepernick (top center) and Kobe Bryant (bottom center), who were both cheering his girlfriend on
Romance: Naomi recalled how Cordae flew to New York when she was feeling depressed while in quarantine at the 2020 U.S. Open (pictured), saying he helped her win
Despite their different schedules, they both make time to support each other’s passions. Cordae said Naomi will go on tour with him for two weeks at a time, which is ‘pretty tight.’
The Japanese tennis pro admitted that tour-bus life disrupted her regimented routine at the beginning of their relationship, but she has since adjusted.
‘I sort of got used to it,’ she said. ‘And for me, I’ve been training for my whole life. It’s just like a fun adventure anytime I go on tour with him.’
Naomi noted that Cordae is ‘quite a romantic dude,’ recalling how he flew out to New York to be with her for the 2020 U.S. Open because she was missing her dad.
Making it work: Naomi will go on tour with Cordae for two weeks at a time when she’s not competing, saying it’s a ‘fun adventure’
She explained that her father is the one who keeps her ‘calm’ and ‘happy’ when she is competing, but he couldn’t be with her while she quarantined at last year’s U.S. Open because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘During the whole New York thing and with everything that was going on, I started to feel really depressed. Sometimes I would call Cordae, and maybe in some of the calls I would cry. I don’t remember,’ she said, laughing.
‘And he flew out, even though he was really busy. I really appreciated that.
‘I’m not sure if I’ve told him that,’ she added. ‘I feel like he actually really helped me win just, like, keeping up the motivation.’
Another win: Naomi denied Serena a chance to tie the record for Grand Slam singles titles this week when she defeated her at the Australian open semi-finals
Big matchup: Naomi will compete against Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open women’s final on Saturday
Naomi is competing against Jennifer Brady for her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open women’s final on Saturday after defeating Serena this week.
‘It’s always an honor to play Serena,’ she said after her win, although how many more chances she will get to do that remains unclear.
Serena, 39, raised questions about her future after losing the match and then fleeing her post-match press conference in tears.
After being asked about the unforced errors she made in the match, she replied, ‘I don’t know, I’m done,’ and then walked out of the room as she struggled to control her emotions.