Naomi Osaka on protecting her mindset, finding inner peace and the trailblazing Williams sisters
It has not been an easy journey, but Naomi Osaka believes she is in a better space after opening up about her mental health struggles and the Japanese tennis star is happy that her decision has given others an opportunity to speak up.
Osaka’s decision to skip press conferences at last year’s French Open in order to protect her mental health caused a stir and she later withdrew from the tournament after the powers that be threatened to throw her out.
The four-time Grand Slam champion then revealed that she has been struggling depression and anxiety for several years and opted to skip Wimbledon. After returning for Tokyo Olympics and US Open, she called an early end to the season in order to recharge mentally and physically.
Osaka has played regularly on the WTA Tour this year and although results have not gone her way in terms of winning titles, the 24-year-old feels she is doing better.
Introducing our May cover star, @naomiosaka! The tennis star spoke to @MorganJerkins about how setting boundaries became a personal practice, and the necessary steps she’s taken to prioritize her mental health to find her inner peace. https://t.co/eZR0Hytbbv pic.twitter.com/4SzEenHxE8
— SELF (@SELFmagazine) May 8, 2022
In an interview with Self, the tennis star about her decision to go public about her mental struggles and how many famous athletes reached out to her.
“I just didn’t feel like I had to do things for others. I wanted to start listening to myself and doing things that I needed to do to protect my mindset,” she revealed.
“After I opened up about my struggles, I spoke to a lot of athletes that told me they too had quietly been suffering.”
She added: “I didn’t expect any of it [the ensuing attention], and to be honest it was a bit strange. For the first time I had press at my house and at my hotel, that had never happened before. It was a strange feeling and I was shocked that people cared that much.
“I guess I am glad it gave others the opportunity to also speak up even if that wasn’t my intention or what I expected.
“It started a conversation that I think we all needed to start having.”
The journey is far from over as Osaka broke down after being heckled at the Indian Wells Open in March and she is now seeing a therapist regularly, but for her winning is no longer her top priority.
“My main goal used to be winning. Lately I have tried to ask myself questions like, ‘Will this make you happy?’,” she asked.
Osaka continued: “At this stage in my life I feel very content in my mental health journey. I feel comfortable in who I am and where I have come from. There have been ups and downs and I wouldn’t change a thing, which really helps to give me inner peace.”
The former world No 1 has never been shy to express her admiration for tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams as she believes the American sisters paved the way for other black female athletes.
She recently watched King Richard, the biopic about the Williams sisters’ father Richard who coached his daughters, and admitted: “At the end I was crying.
“The Williams sisters were such trailblazers and tackled so many issues head on. As a black female athlete, I credit them for breaking down barriers for me.”
Iga Swiatek remains top, Daria Kasatkina earns WTA rankings reward
It’s a career-high for the Russian after her first win of the season in San Jose.
Daniil Medvedev retains top ATP rankings, Nick Kyrgios surges up
Nick Kyrgios is the biggest mover on the latest rankings after his first title since the start of 2020.
Emma Raducanu reveals US Open ambitions, looking to start afresh
The US Open champion is looking to start with a clean slate upon her return to the city of her birth.
Iga Swiatek focused on improving, not winning ahead of Toronto return
A return for where it all began for the world’s best player.
Roger Federer without ATP ranking on his birthday for first time in 25 years
An end to an era as the ATP rankings will not feature Roger Federer on his birthday for the first time this century.
Daria Kasatkina relishing three-setters after Silicon Valley Classic triumph
Daria Kasatkina will return to the top 10 after her triumph in San Jose on Sunday.
Nick Kyrgios has big DC return, wins Citi Open singles and doubles titles
The 27-year-old dropped just one set in five matches of singles, never had his serve broken and led the tournament with 96 aces.
Toronto Masters: How to watch Emma Raducanu vs Camila Giorgi
Here’s how you can track Emma Raducanu at the Toronto Masters,
Montreal Masters: How to watch Andy Murray vs Taylor Fritz
Andy Murray faces American No 1 Taylor Fritz in the opening round of the Montreal Masters.
Silicon Valley Classic: Shelby Rogers chasing first title in showdown with Daria Kasatkina
Shelby Rogers will face Russian No 1 Daria Kasatkina in Sunday’s championship match.