She didn’t ace this one.
4-time Grand Slam tennis champ Naomi Osaka is being hit with backlash over the unintentionally — or cluelessly, depending on whom you ask — offensive name of her latest media company, Hana Kuma.
The sporting superstar, who was born in Japan, told the Recent York Times Tuesday that hana kuma means “flower bear” in Japanese — but Twitter users quickly noted it has a much more explicit meaning in Swahili, where it translates to “woman and not using a vagina.”
The lost-in-translation controversy began trending on Twitter in multiple African countries, with dozens of users urging Osaka, 24, to vary the name of the corporate, which she founded in partnership with NBA legend LeBron James, 37.
“Naomi Osaka has partnered with LeBron James to begin a media company called Hana Kuma. Well, this ‘Hana Kuma’ name means something different in Swahili. I won’t say it,” Ugandan journalist Daniel Kibet tweeted.
“Did they do a world search on what the name means?” one other asked. “She must have been well advised [that] it has a really vulgar meaning in Swahili which is spoken by many individuals.”
The tennis ace excitedly announced her latest business enterprise earlier this week. The corporate will produce TV shows, documentaries and branded content.AFP via Getty Images
A third blasted: “Amazing the shortage of research. A number of money but that brand won’t fly in Africa. Let it stay in America and Japan. It’s offensive. Do you also have a clue what it means? Eliminate your ego and alter the name. God forgive your ignorance.”
One other also urged Osaka to think about a reputation change, stating: “For those who keep the name #hanakuma, the name will override the news and the stories you would like to share. The name of the brand is already news! I suggest a change and likewise, just being a bit respectful to global culture. It’s not overthinking here, it’s protecting a brand!”
Swahili is estimated to be spoken by roughly 200 million around the globe, with a majority of speakers concentrated in East Africa. Osaka hasn’t yet responded to the controversy, but she shared a cryptic tweet Wednesday night, writing: “Prayers for all my overthinkers. We be going through it.”
Osaka told the Times that she hopes Hana Kuma will change into a top Hollywood media company that produces TV shows, documentaries and branded content. The corporate has been founded in partnership with SpringHill — a marketing firm co-founded by James.
Osaka and James are pictured together in 2019. The pair — who’ve teamed up for the brand new enterprise — are two of essentially the most influential athletes on this planet. NBAE via Getty Images
Osaka — who was born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father — said the corporate will place an emphasis on diverse storytelling.
“What excites me is with the ability to encourage people and tell latest stories, particularly ones that I might have desired to see once I was a child,” she stated. “I all the time desired to sort of see someone like me.”
The tennis ace is currently the world’s highest-paid female athlete, raking in a whopping $57 million last yr.
Much of Osaka’s earnings come from endorsement deals, with the savvy star inking lucrative partnerships with brands including Nike and Louis Vuitton.
Earlier this week, the previous World No. 1 announced she was withdrawing from the upcoming Wimbledon tournament, on account of an Achilles injury.
Osaka — who was born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father — said the corporate will place an emphasis on diverse storytelling. ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images