Take your time, sis!
Defending United States Open Tennis Champion Naomi Osaka’s run in the 2021 tournament came to a shocking end on Friday night. It was a stunning moment when she made the emotional statement at the US Open post-match news conference.
“I feel like for me recently, like, when I win, I don’t feel happy,” Osaka said according to ESPN. “I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. And I didn’t want to cry, but basically, I feel like…”
A moderator interjected to cut the press conference short as she paused, but Osaka tearfully pushed through to continue.
“This is very hard to articulate. Basically, I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match,” Osaka said. “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”
The tearful announcement came after a difficult loss to 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez. Osaka won their first set, but she struggled during the second and threw her racket three times in frustration as the matchup continued.
Osaka recently chose her mental health over tennis when she withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year. The two-time US Open Champion seemed ready to extend her winning streak after an impressive showing on opening night against Czech competitor Marie Bouzkova.
She also appeared to be in good spirits after the win, sharing a touching #BlackGirlMagic moment with a young girl who was cheering her on from the stands.
With the exception of perpetually pressed and petulant haters like Piers Morgan, she has already received an outpouring of support for her bravery and vulnerability during this difficult time.
Osaka’s future as a player may be uncertain, but she has already built an amazing legacy outside of her impressive rise to become the #2 player in the world. She recently opened up to the New York Times about the newly renovated tennis courts of a public park in Jamaica, Queens where she got her humble start to a stellar athletic career. “As a traveling athlete, the place that always feels like home is Queens and these courts,” Osaka said. “Mari and I spent so much time here as kids, so many hours on these courts, practicing, and we really feel a connection to not only the courts but the area and the community.”
As a child, this park was one of the few tennis courts that didn’t come with expensive rentals or membership fees so Osaka and her sister could practice for hours. The tennis star is using her success to pay it forward by partnering with Bodyarmor to provide quality facilities to the community for free. “I would love to see people from the community play on this court, people who don’t necessarily have the means to pay for a club membership, people who just want to try and hit some balls for the fun of it, or kids who are trying to reach a dream.” Osaka’s sister, Mari, helped decorate the space with a mural representing their blended heritage with welcoming messages painted in English, Haitian, and Japanese. While competing may not bring her joy at the moment, she will continue to shape the future of tennis through her foundation, Play Academy.