Naomi Osaka is hurting. The world’s No. 2 tennis player with four Grand Slam titles under her belt, Japanese-born Osaka was a medal shoo-in for the Tokyo Olympics. She didn’t just lose a match on home soil; she’d lost a dream to “break or make history”.
But defeat, while uncommon, is not new to Osaka. Naomi Osaka, the docuseries now showing on Netflix, takes us back to her losses to Belinda Bencic (US Open 2019) and Coco Gauff (Australian Open 2020). Both instances let us in on the pressures this 23-year-old constantly deals with.
“I felt like so much pressure and stuff. I just felt like I was very lost cause I was just so focused on winning…I need to mentally take a break and chill out,” Osaka reminds herself repeatedly in the three-episode documentary.
She knows what she has to do – “I should think of the future instead of being stuck in the present” – but she’s trying to feel her way around amid expectations and aspirations. “For so long I’ve tied winning to my worth as a person… so what am I if I’m not a good tennis player?”
But as Naomi Osaka shows, nothing gets this talented athlete down for long. She desperately wants to win simply because she is so sensitive to the people around her and our world. As Black Lives Matter proved, she wants to become the platform to provoke others into thinking, talking and taking action.
Eventually, what makes Osaka so powerful both as a woman and an athlete is her passion for the game. “Tennis is not necessary for anything. I’m doing it, I love doing it,” she says.
Find out what we learnt about her in Naomi Osaka (no spoilers, we promise!).