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Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Shutterstock Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka is filled with gratitude.
Shortly after lighting the cauldron with the Olympic torch in Tokyo on Friday, the tennis star, 23, reflected on the momentous experience.
"Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life," she wrote on social media alongside a series of shots from the opening ceremony.
"I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness ❤️ love you guys thank you," she added.
Alongside a video documenting the moment she added, "Still trying to wrap my head around what just happened, crazy."
The torch was handed off several times on Friday after entering the stadium, including from New York Yankees legend Hideki Matsui and a Japanese doctor and nurse. Paralympian Tsuchida Wakako went on to pass the torch on to several local students, who in turn gave it to Osaka.
NBC Sports' Mike Tirico later said during the broadcast that Osaka's opening Olympics match was pushed back to Sunday so she could take part in the ceremony.
Osaka's mother, Tamika Osaka, is Japanese, and the tennis star is competing for the country in the women's singles tennis at the Games.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Naomi Osaka
The big moment came shortly after she took a step back from the spotlight, citing her mental health, and opted to sit out the 2021 French Open and Wimbledon.
In her first match in nearly two months, Osaka is set to take on 52nd-ranked Saisai Zheng of China in the opening round of the Olympic tournament.
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Novak Djokovic had nothing but praise for Osaka ahead of her Olympics debut.
"Naomi Osaka is a great champion of our sport. And playing in her own country, without a crowd, obviously, it's not ideal for her … But it is what it is," Djokovic, who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday.
Djokovic also briefly referenced Osaka's decision to withdraw from recent tournaments after being fined $15,000 in May for not participating in media requirements and press conferences.
"She and Kei Nishikori carry a lot of responsibility and weight on their shoulders," Djokovic said of Osaka and Nishikori, a big name in men's tennis. "But [Osaka] has quite a lot of experience playing at the highest level, so I don't think you guys [the press] are going to cause a lot of trouble for her."
To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.