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.’
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.
‘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.