Naomi Osaka has the world at her feet as at the age of just 21 she has won two Grand Slams, is the world No 1, has a string of awards to her name and companies are lining up to be associated with her.
Osaka has been in this game, the professional game that is, for only five and a bit years, but she will be the first person to admit that she has been “relevant” for less than 12 months as people only started “paying attention to her” after she won the Indian Wells Masters.
But boy has she enchanted us since her breakthrough win in California in March 2018.
Even during the controversial US Open final, she stayed cool and calm, and showed maturity beyond her years when she so easily could have snapped after the biggest win of her career was effectively overshadowed by her heroine Williams’ run-in with the chair umpire.
Yet, she took the high road.
Let’s not forget her brutal honesty when things don’t go her way.
Yes, a 21-year-old who is not afraid to hold up her hand and admit that she had the “worst attitude” and was “being childish and stuff” after a defeat.
Then there is her decision to take one of the biggest steps in her young career by opting to split with her coach Sascha Bajin, the man who was by her side when won her first two Grand Slams, as she didn’t want to trade her happiness for success.
Osaka has brought nothing but positivity and honesty to the world of tennis since making her breakthrough in 2018, and yet there are people out there who can’t help but be negative and hateful.
People who are okay to send the following online message: “I wish you get terrible injury scum and you disabled without legs”.
Social media abuse is nothing new, but how can any sane person send a message like that to a 21-year-old who just admitted that life in the spotlight has been tough.
Osaka took it in her stride with a caption “Everytime without fail”, but sadly we live in a time where more abuse will be headed her way.
One can only hope that she will continue to brush it off and eventually the online bullies will get tired.
But for now, the tennis community needs to give Osaka some breathing space so that she can deal with the pressures of the sport in her own way.
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