Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka is a very well-known face in the tennis world, something that her Grammy-nominated rapper BF, YBN Cordae, was completely unaware of before they began dating.
“It’s not my sport,” Cordae Amari Dunston, told GQ for their Modern Love cover. “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.”
“I don’t know if I ever told Naomi this or not, but I felt really out of place. Like, that was my first time being in an environment like that in my entire life,” he said. “My elementary school, middle school, high school was 99.9 percent, Black. Kids who look like me. It just felt really weird for me to be in that space. That was my first tennis match ever.”
On their first date, the couple attended a Los Angeles Clippers game, where Osaka thought that he was clumsy after he knocked over a glass.
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Naomi has just won her fourth grand slam at the Australian Open, defeating Jennifer Brady in just 77 minutes. While Cordae wasn’t able to travel with Osaka to Australia for the year’s first grand slam, he was clearly supporting her from home.
He posted a photo of Naomi holding the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup on Instagram, and wrote “The One”.
They went through a period of adjustment in their early days, Osaka says.
“I start super early in the morning, and then I end late afternoon. But I feel like for him everything starts at night. So it was kind of hard to adjust to that in the beginning. But when I did, I felt pretty comfortable,” Naomi told the magazine.
“I can’t really be with someone who doesn’t have any substance or doesn’t act or think on the same frequency and wavelength as I do,” Cordae says. “Like, you know, Naomi was born in Japan. So she has a very worldly perspective. My perspective has always been being a young Black man in America. But she thinks more worldly. I’ve only been traveling the world for the last two years. We’d be recommending each other books and movies all the time. So, you know, just always feeding the brain.”
Cordae was a member of the now-disbanded rap group YBN, and in July 2019, he released his debut solo album, The Lost Boy. It peaked at number six on Billboard‘s Top Rap Albums chart, was praised by critics and fans alike, and received nominations for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song (for “Bad Idea”) at the 2020 Grammys.