Naomi Osaka reflects on tennis career after “seeing the state of the world”



The four-time Grand Slam champion took a break from the game earlier this year in an effort to protect her sanity, but told reporters she now feels grateful for her position.

Following the earthquake in Haiti on Saturday, which left more than a thousand people dead, Osaka posted on Instagram a photo of herself wearing a mask with the national flag on it.

She has also pledged to donate her earnings from this week’s Western and Southern Open to support earthquake relief efforts in the country where her father is from.

At the press conference following her victory over Coco Gauff on Wednesday, she also spoke of the tragic scenes in Afghanistan as people try to flee the new Taliban regime.

“I guess seeing the state of the world, how everything is going in Haiti, how everything is going in Afghanistan right now is really really crazy,” she told reporters.

“To me, hitting a tennis ball in America right now and having people come and watch me play, it’s, I don’t know, like I want to be myself in that situation rather than anything. who else in the world. “

READ: Tsitsipas refuses to get vaccinated unless it becomes mandatory on tour
Naomi Osaka wears a face mask in Haiti ahead of her second round match at Western & Open South.

“This in itself is an accomplishment”

Osaka brought the issue of mental well-being to the forefront of the conversation when she pulled out of this year’s Roland Garros because she didn’t want to attend press conferences.

The 23-year-old spoke of mental health issues and said she struggled to speak to the media around tournaments, having suffered from anxiety and depression.

Preparing to compete in her first tennis tournament since the Tokyo Olympics, she took a brief break from a press conference ahead of the tournament on Monday after starting to cry.

“I was wondering why I was so affected, I guess. Like what made me not want to do media in the first place,” she continued.

“Sometimes I would see the headlines of the players losing and then the title the next day was a ‘meltdown’ or ‘they’re not so good anymore’.

“So I thought, waking up every day, I should feel like I was winning. The choice to go play there, go see the fans, have people come and watch me play, is itself an accomplishment.

“I don’t know when along the way I started desensitizing this.”

READ: Defending champion to miss US Open and rest of 2021 season with wrist injury

Osaka mentioned that the Covid-19 regulation around tennis over the past year has only amplified the problem.

Players had to stay within strict bubbles during tournaments in order to avoid the spread of cases.

“It started out as not being an accomplishment for me, so I felt like I was very ungrateful about it,” she added.

“I think this whole Covid thing was very stressful with the bubbles and not seeing people and not having interactions.”


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