“I Can Prove Myself Time After Time”: Naomi Osaka Reveals Grand Slam Success Made Her a Better Player

Published 03/15/2021, 11:00 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates winning her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott


Arguably the most sought-after women’s tennis star at the minute, Naomi Osaka has opened up on the strides she has made in the game and how she looks back at her journey as a three-year-old who dreamt of making it big in the sport.

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In an interview with Glamour magazine, which has named her the ‘Gamechanger of the Year’, the current World Number 2 said that success hasn’t changed her one bit.

Naomi Osaka says success has given her more belief in her own ability

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“I don’t feel that different,” said the Japanese, who clinched her second Australian Open title this year.

Looking back on her road to fame, riches and fandom, the 23-year-old Osaka said that she feels happy that all the effort that she put in her early years is now bringing her the desired dividends.

She added that her success has also boosted her level of belief and confidence in her own ability as a professional tennis player. “I do feel more confident and prouder of myself that all of my hard work starting from the age of three paid off,” Osaka said.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her semi final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina

Osaka says she’s always excited to step into high-pressure matches

The reigning US Open champion Osaka said that the expectations around her grew manifold from the day she lifted her maiden Grand Slam title and she has since learned to adapt to the challenge of living up to the high hopes of her fans every time she steps out on court.

The Japanese added that she believes she has gone some way to being a pro in handling pressure and being all the better for it.

“I’m always excited to walk into those high-pressure matches knowing I can prove myself time after time,” Osaka said.

While she did carry a huge burden of expectations on her shoulders into this year’s Australian Open, especially after the highs at the Flushing Meadows, the Japanese walked the talk in not letting it affect her game.

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Cutting out all the noise around her, she dismantled her opponents on the way to setting up a dream semifinal battle against her biggest inspiration in the game, Serena Williams.

Demonstrating her newly acquired mental steel, Osaka set aside her camaraderie with the American and brought her competitive best to the fore to send the 23-time Grand Slam champion crashing out of the tournament.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

825 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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