Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2022

‘Sensitive and vulnerable’ Naomi Osaka again urged to develop ‘thick skin’ to handle success

Chris Evert has reiterated the need for a “sensitive and vulnerable” Naomi Osaka to develop a “thick skin” to deal with the side-effects of fame on the WTA Tour.

At last month’s Indian Wells Masters, four-time Grand Slam ace Naomi Osaka was nearly reduced to tears after a heckler shouted “Naomi, you suck!” in her second round exit.

However, 77th ranked Osaka quickly put the incident behind her the following week as she reached the Miami Open final where she lost to new World number one Iga Swiatek, who claimed the ‘Sunshine Double.’

With her attention now turning to the clay-court season, Osaka revealed she will be studying videos of clay-court king Rafael Nadal to improve her technique on clay.

18-time Slam legend Chris Evert echoed the sentiment behind her previous quotes on Osaka’s mental health and how she handles adversity by saying the Japanese star needs to develop a “thick skin.”

In an interview with Eurosport, Evert said “we’re all fans of Naomi Osaka and we’ve seen the high level of tennis that she can play and we’ve seen her win Grand Slams.

“We recognise that she’s a very sensitive person and this life of winning tournaments, being [World] number one, winning Grand Slams, this competition with everything that comes along with it, being a target for anybody to talk about, being judged and social media, how your privacy is taken away from you.

“It’s not just playing a match on the court, it’s everything that goes along with it. It’s been a struggle for her and I think that she’s just sensitive and she’s just vulnerable,” she expressed.

“You have to have thick skin, that’s a reality and that’s not a criticism. If you don’t have thick skin, you can develop thick skin because you’ve got to understand that if you’re this successful, you’re out in the open for anybody to judge and for anybody to talk about you.

“There are a lot of people out there who are not happy with their own lives. So they sort of interject into other people’s lives their opinion and their negativity.

“I’ve always thought that if you are successful in any field and you are making millions of dollars on the tennis court and endorsement sponsorships, that you pay the price. There’s a price for everything,” Evert claimed.

“You can’t just go smooth, you can’t avoid the pitfalls of success. You have to understand that and do the best you can, but you have to be thick-skinned and realise that if somebody takes a shot at you, that is their problem. That is not your problem.”

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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.