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Naomi Osaka Discusses Mindset Days After Emotional Press Conference

Naomi Osaka Discusses Mindset Days After Emotional Press Conference

 MASON, OHIO - AUGUST 18: Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates after defeating Cori Gauff 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 during Western & Southern Open - Day 4 at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 18, 2021 in Mason, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka’s return to the press conference format could not have gone the way she expected.

On Monday — in her first press conference since withdrawing from the French Open in May — Osaka was asked by Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty how she balances her media obligations, considering her platform. Osaka was able to answer, but began to cry, forcing her to step away for five minutes in order to compose herself.Since withdrawing from the French Open, Osaka has been open about dealing with depression and anxiety, which she says began after her 2018 U.S. Open victory.

After defeating Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday, Osaka shared her thoughts on the past year and what she’s learned. 

“Honestly, I was thinking about this since the last time I sat here,” Osaka said, per ABC News. “I was wondering why I was so affected, I guess. Like what made me not want to do media in the first place. And then I was thinking, I was wondering if I was scared because sometimes I would see headlines of players losing and then the headline the next day would be like ‘a collapse’ or ‘they’re not that great anymore.’”“So then I was thinking, me waking up every day, for me, I should feel like I’m winning, you know,” she continued. “Like, the choice to go out there and play, to go see fans, that people come out and watch me play, that itself is an accomplishment. I’m not sure when along the way I started desensitizing that. It started not being an accomplishment for me. So I felt like I was very ungrateful on that fact.”

Osaka spoke about her difficulties through COVID, including the lack of social interaction the pandemic has created.

“I don’t know. I think definitely this whole COVID thing was really stressful with the bubbles and not seeing people and not having the interactions,” Osaka said Wednesday. “But I think, like, I guess seeing the state of the world, how everything is in Haiti, how everything is in Afghanistan right now, is definitely really crazy.”

“And for me to just be hitting a tennis ball in the United States right now, and have people come and watch me play, is, I don’t know. I would want to be myself in this situation rather than anyone else in the world.”

Over the weekend, Osaka said that she would be donating her winnings from the tournament to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, her father’s home country.

“Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break,” Osaka announced on Twitter. “I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising[.]”

Osaka defeated Gauff in three sets on Wednesday and plays Jil Teichmann of Switzerland Thursday evening.

Osaka participated at the Tokyo Olympics as a member of Team Japan, surprisingly losing to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round.

A previous version of this article provided inaccurate context for Osaka’s answer. She was addressing her mindset over the past year, not her mindset during the recent press conference. 

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