Naomi Osaka ‘More Comfortable’, Embracing Positivity in Tennis Return
In SummaryAfter an emotional 2021 on the court, the tennis champion has made her return back to the sport with a new mindset.
After a tough 2021, Naomi Osaka is back on the tennis court and says she is “more comfortable” in her skin.
In May 2021, she withdrew from the French Open after tennis officials threatened to suspend her for declining to do media interviews. Her decision not to speak to the press earned her a $15,000 fine, BNC previously reported.
One month later in June, Osaka announced she withdrew from the Wimbledon Tournament to take some personal time to focus on her mental health. The Tennis star revealed she suffered through long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018, where media criticism led to negativity towards her.
After her brief hiatus, she returned to the Western & Southern Open in August 2021 but became emotional during her first media appearance. She began to cry after being asked about her relationship with the media during Tennis tournaments and how it differs from her relationship to media for her outside interests.
All of these instances, and her desire to prioritize her mental health, led her to question when she’d return to tennis. According to The New York Times, Osaka lost at the U.S. Open on Sep. 3, 2021, and announced she did not know when she’d play next. In a media appearance after her loss, she said, “I feel like for me recently when I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. And I don’t think that that’s normal.”
Now, after several months away from the sport, Osaka returned to the Australian Open with a win against Colombian tennis player Camila Osorio, Yahoo! Sports reported.
The 24-year-old said she feels like she’s in a better place and looking to have a more positive mindset. “I would say I feel more comfortable in my skin if that makes sense. Like there’s always the human nature to feel uneasy, to want to please everyone and stuff like that,” she said. “Basically, right now, I’m trying to learn how to be more selfish, but in a positive way.”