Photo/IllutrationKoki Ando, right, president of Nissin Foods Holdings Co., erupts with joy along with Nissin employees at the group’s headquarters in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Sept. 9 when Naomi Osaka won the U.S. Open women's singles final. (Yuji Endo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

A boisterous crowd at Nissin Food Products Co., which sponsors Naomi Osaka, erupted in a joyous wake-up call in Tokyo early on Sept. 9 when she became the first Grand Slam singles tennis champion born in Japan by winning the U.S. Open.

“She made it!” and “Naomi” cheers were heard among the 150 Nissin employees at an event hall in the company’s main office building in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

Osaka, 20, upset her highly favored opponent, American Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-4, in the women's singles final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

With the time difference, the crowd began trickling into the hall well before 5 a.m. that morning to watch the match live, wearing the same T-shirts of white and red that were made especially for the occasion.

Whenever Osaka produced a winner with her powerful groundstrokes and serve, cheers and sounds of balloon sticks struck together reverberated in the hall.

Among the crowd was Koki Ando, president of the cup noodle maker’s holding company, Nissin Foods Holdings Co. He said he woke up at 3 a.m. to watch the match.

“It was a remarkable accomplishment,” he said of Osaka’s first Grand Slam title. “I knew she was going to achieve it eventually, but I didn’t expect it this fast. It feels great.”

In the capital’s Shibuya Ward, about 20 tennis fans showed up at M-Spo sports bar in the early morning to watch her play in the U.S. Open final.

When Osaka made history by beating Williams, who has 23 Grand Slam singles titles, they raised their hands en masse and erupted in wild applause.

“For Americans, Serena is a hero,” said Yuji Okui, a 39-year-old Japanese-American who works at the American Embassy. “But I rooted for Osaka today. I am happy that a new star was born in Japan.”

Shoei Umada, a 23-year-old company employee who played tennis when he was a student, said, “I have never expected a Japanese-born player to win a Grand Slam title. “It was a great joy for a tennis fan to see a Japanese player with Serena together at the victory ceremony.”

(This article was written by Yuji Endo and Wataru Netsu.)