Still only 25-years-old, the shuttler, who is an avid chef, whenever she has the time, that is, has certainly found the right ingredients with partner Satako Suetsuna as they chase for honours on the badminton circuit.
Currently ranked third in the world, Maeda-Suetsuna have big dreams as they hope to one day retire as world and Olympic champions.
Born in Kirishima, Kagoshima, Japan, Maeda always knew she would be a sports personality – she was heavily into swimming in her younger days – but it was badminton which was always her first love.
“I used to follow my sister to badminton when I was six, and have been playing the game ever since,” said Maeda, recently won her second OSIM BWF World Superseries crown with Suetsuna when they triumphed at the YONEX SUNRISE India Open Superseries on May 1, six months after the pair won their first Superseries title in Denmark.
“For my career, I always try my very best. If possible, I would like to win medals in the World Championships and Olympics. Any medal would do, as long as it is pretty … gold is a pretty colour, yes,” she said with a big laugh, flashing that big smile which has captured many a heart.
“I don’t know how long more I will play for but I want to win as many titles as I can. I love badminton and it would be good to end my career with gold medals from the World Championships and Olympics.”
The 5’7’’ (169cm) tall right-hander admitted some of the attention from her fans can be unerring at times as she doesn’t consider herself pretty at all.
“I’m honoured that some fans may say I’m good looking or that Japan have many pretty badminton players, but honestly, I don’t think I’m special,” she said modestly.
“I don’t do anything out of the ordinary to pretty myself up. I just go out there to play and to have fun. Maybe the fans see us smiling all the time and think ‘that’s pretty’.”
Maeda, however, admitted she does like to dress up away from the court and loves to go shopping, especially for clothes, but has no personal favourite brand.
So, does she have a boyfriend? Maeda turned a little red, started to laugh before replying: “That’s a secret!” When asked if it is a secret because she has too many boyfriends, she put a finger to her lips before laughing out loud and saying: “That’s an even bigger secret!”
Maeda, who loves cooking Japanese food, is also into Korean and Japanese BBQ and said she has no problem eating spicy food.
“I normally cook Japanese dishes but I want to learn to cook other types of food as well,” said Maeda, who followed up her India Open victory by bagging the YONEX SUNRISE Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold a week later. “Cooking is good.”
Maeda should know, as she is certainly quite a dish!