Naomi Osaka’s much-anticipated Netflix documentary collection, referred to as “Naomi Osaka,” is lastly right here.
The collection, break up into three episodes, presents a really intimate glimpse into the thoughts of the four-time Grand Slam champion, permitting viewers to witness how quickly her life rotated with in a single day fame and success since successful the 2018 U.S. Open closing towards her personal idol Serena Williams.
Osaka, together with her shy and unassuming demeanor, narrates every episode together with her ideas through the extra main milestones of her profession and private life. Fans acquire a greater understanding of her Japanese-Haitian upbringing by her dad and mom Tamaki Osaka and Leonard Francois, how the dying of considered one of her largest position fashions in sports activities affected her and the way she diverted from the given blueprint of the typical tennis participant when it got here to activism.
The documentary additionally delves into the quantity of strain that weighs on Osaka with every match she performs. This 12 months, the tennis champion took some steps to enhance her psychological well being.
In May, Osaka introduced she wouldn’t be taking part in any necessary press conferences on the French Open. She was fined $15,000 for not talking to the media after successful her first match and withdrew from the match the next day because of psychological well being points. Ahead of the Wimbledon Championships, Osaka’s agent declared she wouldn’t be partaking within the match. Osaka, nevertheless, will nonetheless symbolize Japan on the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.
Here, WWD appears at 5 of the most important moments that got here from Osaka’s Netflix docuseries. Read on for extra.
1. Naomi Osaka Didn’t Feel She Was a Good Tennis Player as a Child, But Went Pro for Her Mom
Though it could be troublesome to inform now, as a baby, Osaka claimed she “wasn’t really good” at tennis. She and her older sister, Mari, would play on the general public courts every single day, rallying with one another. According to Osaka, they’d play for at the least eight hours every time.
Both her mom and father “had a dream of having kids that played tennis.” Despite by no means having performed the game, her father took inspiration from Richard Williams and his teaching of his two daughters, Venus and Serena Williams. Though Osaka felt like she wasn’t as much as par, her largest motivator to develop into higher and pursue skilled tennis was her mom.
“All I was thinking was, I want my mom to be happy, I want her to stop working,” Osaka stated, reflecting on coming into the native tennis tournaments as a baby. “She would work overtime, she would sleep in her car sometimes. And for me, that was the whole point of playing tennis. It was honestly become a champion or probably be broke.”
2. Kobe Bryant’s Death Took an Emotional Toll on Naomi Osaka
The late basketball legend was a task mannequin for a lot of in sports activities, together with Osaka, who regarded as much as Bryant, dubbed “The Black Mamba,” and his dedicated champion mentality. When the previous Lakers star died in a tragic helicopter crash in January 2020, alongside along with his daughter Gianna and 7 others, it vastly affected Osaka.
In a video she recorded shortly after the information, she confirmed the digital camera her cellphone background, which was a photograph of herself and Bryant, and mentioned how a lot he impacted her.
“It’s so amazing how one person can touch the hearts of so many people. When I talked to him, I felt so similar to him… the way he would describe how he would do things to get under his opponents’ skin or whatever. I was like, ‘That’s literally what I do,’” Osaka stated within the video. “So I’m feeling like I let him down. I’m supposed to carry on his mentality in tennis and here I am like… I haven’t won a Grand Slam. I’m losing matches because I’m mentally weak, and he’s… that’s so uncharacteristic of him.”
Osaka then brings up the textual content she was fascinated with sending Bryant, looking for recommendation on how you can not really feel the best way that she did. “We’re having all these talks and I’m not even doing what we’re talking about. So it’s like I’m just gonna text him again, like, ‘How do you heal with this situation?’” she stated. “And then I didn’t text him that ’cause I didn’t wanna feel like a loser, and now I’ll never have the chance to talk to him again. I don’t know, like wow.”
The following month, Osaka performed within the 2020 Fed Cup the place she misplaced two straight units to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. Her coach, Wim Fissette, defined within the documentary that she “wasn’t there in spirit or mentally,” citing the grief from Bryant’s dying was nonetheless affecting her. “The death of Kobe was a real thing that upset her. They were close,” he stated.
Later that 12 months through the 2020 U.S. Open, Osaka mentioned her shut relationship with Bryant, who would’ve celebrated his forty second birthday that month, throughout an interview. “For me, I just always wish I would do something that he’s proud of, and I felt incredibly lucky to have known Kobe and to speak to him on a personal level,” she stated. “So, hopefully, whatever I do, he won’t be mad about and he’d be proud.”
3. Naomi Osaka Wants to Better Represent Those Who are Half-Black, Half-Japanese
Despite her half-Japanese upbringing, Osaka truly needs she spoke extra Japanese. Though she speaks the language to her mother and her sister, she says “they won’t say anything about the way that [she talks] because [she has] broken grammar.”
But her rising reputation has made her rethink her language proficiency. “Now I’m in the spotlight, I’m thinking maybe I’m doing something wrong by not representing the half-Black, half-Japanese kids well,” she stated.
The documentary additionally discusses the difficulties her dad and mom confronted as a biracial couple in Japan. The two met when Francois was visiting Hokkaido as a school pupil from New York.
“No matter what somebody does, as an immigrant in Japan, you never really are full Japanese. So we had our obstacles within our marriage and parental, you know, and how they looked at us,” stated Francois, who’s initially from Jacmel, Haiti. “In choosing their names and making sure it’s a universal name wherever they go, we wanted people to see who they really are.”
4. Naomi Osaka Received Criticism When She Chose to Represent Japan for Olympics, Giving Up Her U.S. Citizenship
In 2019, Osaka selected to surrender her United States citizenship to symbolize Japan within the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. According to Japanese legislation, those that have twin citizenship that have been born after 1985 should select one citizenship and resign the opposite by the point they’re 22, which Osaka was days shy of celebrating on the time. Despite spending the vast majority of her life within the States, Osaka and her sister have all the time represented Japan.
When information broke that she determined to play for Japan as a substitute of the United States, Osaka claimed she acquired some criticism from Americans.
“I’ve been playing under the Japan flag since I was 14. It was never even a secret that I’m going to play for Japan for the Olympics,” she stated within the docuseries. “So I don’t choose America, and suddenly people are like, ‘Your Black card is revoked.’ And it’s like, African American isn’t the only Black, you know? I don’t know, I feel like … people really don’t know the difference between nationality and race, ‘cause there’s a lot of Black people in Brazil, but they’re Brazilian.”
5. The Murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter Protests Compelled Naomi Osaka to Carve Her Own Path in Activism
Like most athletes, Osaka all the time felt she wanted to remain in her lane when it got here to sure issues to keep away from “any controversy.” Additionally, she says she felt “scared” to specific any type of ideas that have been increase in her head.
After the homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, the Black Lives Matter motion grew to become the centerpiece for activism, with 1000’s of protests occurring for months all through the United States and the remainder of the world. Osaka joined in on the protests, being one of many largest tennis gamers on the planet to take action.
“I’ve always been following people and sort of following blueprints of people, and now I feel like I didn’t really find or, like, see a lane or a path that I liked, and I was at a standstill,” Osaka stated. “And then I found that you have to make your own path.”
That August, Osaka was scheduled to play within the semifinal of the Western & Southern Open, however selected to not compete that day to affix different athletes within the NBA, WNBA, MLB, MLS and NHL in protesting the capturing of Jacob Blake. “I felt like I needed to raise my voice and if withdrawing from a tournament would cause the most stir, then it’s something that I would have to do,” she stated.
“We were watching the NBA teams do it and the WNBA teams do it. And these were people that were able to talk as a collective, make a decision, have the support of their teammates,” Fissette stated. “And she was on an island and did it alone. And no other tennis player was willing to do it. She was the one that took it upon herself and stood up. She stopped the game of tennis for a day, which had never been done in history.”
“It was a bit frightening to speak up. I do feel like it’s been building up for a while, and this is what I’m supposed to be doing in this moment,” Osaka stated.
Entering the U.S. Open, Osaka continued her streak of activism by carrying seven face masks emblazoned with the names of Black individuals who had been murdered: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice and Elijah McClain. She went into the match with the intention of carrying one to each spherical she superior to, hoping she would ultimately put on each by making it to the ultimate, which she did and received.
When requested about her activism, each her dad and mom totally supported her, pondering the concept of the masks have been “brilliant.”
“If some people can’t understand, then probably somebody will have to teach those people,” Tamaki stated.
“When it comes to the masks, for me, I mean, it feels like she’s standing up for me. She made that decision on her own, and it’s the right decision,” Francois stated within the collection. “She’s standing on the right side of history.”
During an interview on the finish of her victory towards Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka on the closing of final 12 months’s U.S. Open, Osaka was requested what her message was by carrying the masks. “‘Well, what was the message that you got?’ was more the question,” she responded. “I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”
All three episodes of “Naomi Osaka” shall be obtainable to stream on Netflix beginning July 16.
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