Naomi Osaka talks anxiety and depression, putting her mental health before press events, and more in a new interview with Women’s Health.
The 23-year-old made headlines when she was fined for skipping two news conferences at the French Open last month before pulling out of the competition amid mental health concerns.
Osaka tells the publication, “We live in a world where people are so quick to speak and to comment. Silence is almost uncomfortable.”
She adds of viewing her introspective nature as a superpower: “Growing up being [labelled] ‘the quiet one’ puts you in a box and, even worse, makes you stand out when all you want is to blend in. But now I try to embrace and own it.
“I never wanted media training because I didn’t want to change my personality to offer a canned response that didn’t feel like me. Yes, some people may find my personality different, just as they do my mixed-race background, but I find it to be the thing that makes me uniquely myself.”
Osaka discusses her battle with anxiety and depression, telling the mag: “I hope I was able to help some people and for them to see that even athletes are still humans like the rest of us. And we all are dealing with something in our lives.”
The tennis pro has a pre-game ritual of listening to music by artists, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Saweetie.
“[It] helps dull my social anxiety. Music calms me, it silences the noise that won’t help my game. For me, music is inspiring and uplifting.”
Osaka then says of being firmly rooted in the belief that life is bigger than tennis: “Now more than ever I see that you can be more than just one thing — more than just someone who plays tennis.”