“Would Start Shaking”: Naomi Osaka Reveals Social Anxiety Even After Playing on Big Stages

Published 12/17/2020, 12:59 PM EST
Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates winning the first set during her victory against Madison Keys of the United States in the Women’s Singles Semi Final match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6th, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Three-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has revealed that despite being in the biggest stage of tennis, which is the Grand Slam, she fights shy of moving in social circles.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 24: Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates in her Women’s Semi Final match against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic during day 11 of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka shares fondness for playing at Arthur Ashe


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She also opened up on her fondness for playing at the Flushing Meadows, especially the Arthur Ashe Stadium, and how it makes her shake off her reticence and brings out the competitor in her.

In an interview with Vogue magazine, the Japanese star said it’s the sheer joy of playing in front of a sellout Arthur Ashe crowd that makes her long to return to  the US Open every year.

Osaka says she feeds lively US Open crowd

Osaka said she is never short of motivation to give off her very best at “the biggest stadium” and feeds off the lively and knowledgeable crowd at the packed arena.

She said while she is fairly laidback when away from tennis, she switches on the moment she steps on court.

She added that she is not an outgoing sort and prefers staying home when not playing tennis.

“On the court is completely different,” Osaka said.

The Japanese said she feels like a gladiator every time she sets foot at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Naomi Osaka says she feels like a gladiator at Arthur Ashe

“I love playing at the Arthur Ashe because it’s the biggest stadium, and you feel the rumble of the crowd.

You kind of feel like a gladiator because it’s super-big and there are so many people watching your match,” Osaka said.

Osaka she struggles to find speech in social circles

However, the Japanese star said that away from tennis courts and in front of a hundred people, she would struggle to find speech.


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“But off the court, if I was ever thrown into a situation where I had to speak in front of 100 people, I feel like I would start shaking,” Osaka said.


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In an earlier interview with Rich Kleiman, the manager of American basketball star Kevin Durant, Osaka had said she doesn’t have any friends on Tour as she thinks cosying up to her rivals would take away from her competitive edge.

In an affirmation to her fondness for the Flushing Meadows, the Japanese clinched her third Grand Slam title at the US Open this year.


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She finished the 2020 WTA season ranked second and was named highest-earning female athlete this year.




Priyabrata Chowdhury

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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.