Naomi Osaka Says Nicki Minaj and Eminem Helped Her Win Her First Grand Slam

When it comes to her pre-game playlist, Naomi Osaka is superstitious about her music.

Before defeating her childhood hero Serena Williams on Saturday during the U.S. Open Women’s Finals and becoming the first-ever Japanese Grand Slam champion, the 20-year-old athlete was listening to her favorite music on repeat.

“I listened to Nicki Minaj‘s new album [Queen],” Osaka, the daughter of a Haitian-American father and Japanese mother, tells PEOPLE of the artist she chose to listen to during the U.S. Open.

Revealing that she commits to one musician before matches, the 5-foot-11 athlete says she only changes artists if she loses.

But then, Osaka, like most music fans, was surprised with an unexpected album release.

“And then Eminem dropped a new album [Kamikaze] so I was switching between those two.

I’m genuinely more into hip-hop and rap,” says the Florida-based star, who is the youngest woman in the world’s Top 20 and Japan’s highest-ranked female player in more than a decade.

Weeks before the U.S. Open, Osaka was blasting Kendrick Lamar‘s music for her debut at the Washington Citi Open.

However, Poland’s Magda Linette beat her in three sets to advance to the quarterfinals.

Osaka is also a member of the Bey Hive, even tweeting: “Tell me why Beyoncé decides to have a concert in Miami at the same time as the US Open. I’m legit gonna cry.”

After her U.S. Open victory, Osaka was congratulated by Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles Lawson.

“Congratulations Naomi Osaka on winning the US Open. You were amazing in your skills and your grace.

You’ve Only Just Begun!” Knowles Lawson wrote on Instagram, along with a photo of Osaka lifting her trophy in the air.

Many other celebrities, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have also made special shout-outs to Osaka and Williams for their performances amid the controversy due to the 23-time Grand Slam champion being fined for three violations, including verbally abusing the chair umpire.

In the wake of the scandal surrounding her U.S. Open victory, Osaka tells PEOPLE she aims to make the country she represents proud.

“I hope people over [in Japan] are happy, that’s the main thing that I wish,” she says.


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