Naomi Osaka smiling at Australian Open

‘I just want to have fun’ – Naomi Osaka aims for a more enjoyable 2022 season

Naomi Osaka plans to prioritise her mental health this season, revealing she “cared a little too much about results and rankings” and feels she needs to enjoy her tennis again.

After taking a four-month hiatus to prioritise her mental health, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has returned to action at the Melbourne Summer Set, where she beat Alize Cornet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Former World number one Osaka initially refused to partake in any press conferences at the French Open this year, before then fully withdrawing from Roland Garros and Wimbledon after she revealed she had been suffering with depression and anxiety.

Her decision proved to be extremely polarising and divisive, with many supporting her whilst others were highly critical. Tennis greats Boris Becker and Mats Wilander both lambasted the Japanese star’s decision.

In a press conference after her recent win, Osaka shared that she hasn’t set any specific result-oriented goals for the upcoming season but has instead opted to focus on enjoying her tennis.

Osaka said “I only really have one major goal this year, and it’s completely unrelated to results and stuff like that. For me, I just want to feel like every time I step on the court I’m having fun. I can walk off the court knowing that even if I lost, I tried as hard as I could.

“Also, I have a goal in the pressroom, that I’m never going to cry again, so hopefully that works out in my favour.

“I’m the type of person that cared a little bit too much about the results and the ranking and stuff like that and I just need to find a way to enjoy the game again. Because that’s the reason why I was playing in the first place.”

However, Osaka has no plans to change who she is or how she handles press conferences, saying “right after everything happened at Roland Garros, I was really scared to come back in here [the pressroom] because I didn’t know what the energy was going to be like.

“I think that I’m just going to keep being myself, and you can interpret it how you want to. That’s kind of how it’s been working out for us this whole time.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.