Naomi Osaka admits she considered quitting tennis for good
Naomi Osaka has admitted that she considered quitting tennis for good, but was lured back partly by wanting to give daughter Shai a great role model.
Osaka is back on the WTA Tour now after more than a year away to become a mother, and she looks like she has a new spring in her step in Australia.
Tennis hasn’t always been an easy fit with Osaka, though. She struggles with anxiety and was once forced to withdraw from the French Open due to being unable to complete her media obligations after matches.
That led to some wondering whether she would even return to the sport at all – including Osaka herself.
Asked if there was ever a time she thought about not coming back to tennis, Osaka said: “Yeah, I would say right after Tokyo for, like, a month maybe I was thinking about it because I felt like all my joy went away for the sport.
“I felt like it kind of wasn’t fair, both for the people watching and myself. But then I thought: I’ve played tennis since I was three and there’s so many more things that I want to do.
“After giving birth I can handle ????????!”
Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka will make her return at Brisbane International next week ? pic.twitter.com/spTseqjW2o
— Eurosport (@eurosport) December 29, 2023
“Especially with Shai, I want her to see someone that has big goals and dreams. I think that’s really important – to have really good role models.
“Also, just learning how to appreciate the sport. I think in the time I had away, I appreciated the sport a lot more.
“After giving birth, I understood how physical & how much work it takes to get there. I’m very curious to see what happens in my match.”
Naomi Osaka ‘feeling more confident’
During her absence from tennis, Osaka appears to have also conquered a few mental demons, or at least learned how to keep them under control.
Her anxiety issues seem to have gone for now, and she says she is appreciating the lifestyle of a player now, as well as being part of a community of players like she never has before.
“I also feel like I’m more confident with who I am as a person,” she said. “I never tried to have conversations with other players before, and I think I definitely put a large wall up.
“Now I find myself interacting with people. It’s just really cool. If I take myself out of being a tennis player, just seeing everyone working hard, being in the gym, like seeing people change over the years, too, coming back and appreciating that it’s cool.”
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