Yamaguchi Akane

Reigning world champion and BWF women’s singles number 2 Yamaguchi Akane is one of two Japanese shuttlers on the top five, the other one being fifth-ranked Okuhara Nozomi. 

The Katsuyama native has won seven Super Series tournaments and eight more on the World Tour for a total of 15 senior-level titles. 

In 2018, she got her first taste of being the top-ranked female player in the world. She held it for two weeks on the back of her successful defense of the German Open and her bridesmaid finish to Chinese Taipei ace Tai Tzu-ying at the All England. Then, she helped Japan end its Uber Cup drought, claiming the country’s first tournament in 37 years and sixth overall. 

Yamaguchi then followed it up in 2019 with her first ever Asian crown, defeating He Bingjiao. She reclaimed the number one ranking from Tai after wins at the Indonesian and Japan Opens. 

Despite a disappointing 2020 Summer Olympics, where she bowed out of the quarterfinal of the women’s singles event, Yamaguchi defeated Tai in straight games to win her maiden World title in Huelva, Spain in December 2021.