“Tennis is What I Do, Not Who I am”: Naomi Osaka States Tennis Does Not Define Her

Published 07/12/2021, 8:30 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 20, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka gives an interview as she celebrates with the trophy after winning her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott


The Japanese international, Naomi Osaka’s, withdrawal from the sport earlier this season brought to light some issues that needed to be addressed. After her clash with the media at the 2021 French Open, Naomi Osaka decided to pull out of the tournament. While doing so, she opened up about her struggles with anxiety and depression after retiring from the competition on the grounds of mental health.

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Naomi was criticized, judged, and cornered for not taking enough ‘risk’ and shying away from media attention. However, some of the sport’s most renowned stars came to Naomi’s aid and spoke in her support. Backed by the icons, the youngster’s move became a worldwide movement. Players were demanding a change in the system, one that gives more importance to their mental health. Not just tennis players, but many other sports entities also supported Naomi’s decision and applauded her courage.

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Even though on a sabbatical right now, Naomi has been making the rounds of the internet, this time for her collaboration with Panasonic Singapore. In a thought-provoking video, the company recently launched Naomi as its brand ambassador. “Tennis is what I do, not who I am,” she said.

Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after missing a shot against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A catalyst for positive change in the world

The Japanese youngster burst onto the scene after winning her first major title in 2018. However, it wasn’t until her withdrawal that fans got to know her more. A global entity of her scale is often viewed only from the lens of a celebrity or a sportsperson. However, Naomi distinguishes her passion from her profession, thereby not losing her identity of who she really is.

“Tennis is an outlet for my drive and energy. A platform to showcase my athletic ability. I am blessed to experience the lifestyle the game allows. But tennis does not define who I am as a person,” she said.

Through one too many ways, Naomi has not only started movements but also supported many. She’s voiced her support through her actions more than her words and uses her global reach to play a part in creating a change.

Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates with the trophy after winning her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
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“I am equally as passionate about being a catalyst for positive change in the world. I cannot ignore others who are less fortunate nor remain silent, as some might prefer in the face of injustice,” said Naomi.

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Naomi Osaka will represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics

Naomi will be participating in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Having withdrawn from the French Open as well as the 2021 Wimbledon Championship, her return will be wildly cheered on and appreciated.

Watch This Story: How Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, and Others Travel

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Until then, Naomi prepares for the release of her Netflix Docuseries. It is a gripping tale that covers the life of an athlete, showcasing a side hidden behind the glamourous sport. Once again, Naomi hopes to bring about a conversation over longstanding issues to help those who can relate and those who fail to understand.

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Melroy Fernandes

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