Naomi Osaka opens up on feeling ‘ungrateful’ for tennis amid mental health struggles

Naomi Osaka: Pundits discuss French Open withdrawal

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Naomi Osaka has admitted that recent world events have given her a new perspective after feeling “ungrateful” for her life as a tennis star. The world number two, who beat America’s Coco Gauff in three sets at the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday, withdrew from the French Open in June after being sanctioned for refusing to do press conferences, claiming her mental health was being jeopardised by the line of questioning.

She duly took a two-month break from the sport before returning for the Olympic Games, and the Cincinnati tournament represents her first action since a third-round defeat to Marketa Vondrousova in Tokyo.

And following the match with Gauff the 23-year-old, who briefly left her Monday press conference in tears, said: “I was wondering why I was so affected, like what made me not want me to the media,” she said.

“I’m wondering if I was scared, because sometimes I would see headlines of like players losing and then the headline the next day would be like a collapse or they’re not great anymore.

“So then I was thinking me waking up every day, for me, I should feel like I’m winning. 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 desensitising that. Like it started not being like an accomplishment for me. So I felt like I was very ungrateful on that fact.”

She added that the current harrowing situations in both Haiti and Afghanistan had altered her outlook.

“Seeing the state of the world, how everything is in Haiti and Afghanistan right now is definitely really crazy,” she said.

“And for me to just be hitting a tennis ball in the United States right now and have people come and watch me play I would want to be myself in this situation rather than anyone else in the world.”

Osaka’s father was born in Haiti and the four-time Grand Slam winner has revealed she’ll donate all her winnings from this tournament to the country’s relief fund.

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