"I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match."
Tennis star Naomi Osaka is putting her racket away. After a crushing defeat at the U.S. Open on Friday, Sept. 3, the athlete gave a tearful speech about the difficulties she’s been facing, and it sounds like she’s not hitting the court again for a while. In a post-match press conference, Naomi Osaka said she’s taking a break from tennis after she lost at the U.S. Open, and her announcement was heartbreaking.
After a close match that left Osaka pretty upset, the press conference gave the 23-year-old star a platform to speak about her thoughts. "I feel like for me, recently, like when I win, I don't feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad," Osaka began. "I don't think that's normal.”
The tennis player started to cry. Meanwhile, the moderator attempted to cut off the conference, but Osaka continued to say, “[I’m] trying to figure out what I want to do.” She continued, “I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match.” Then, as she wiped her tears, she added, "I think I'm gonna take a break from playing for a while."
Osaka’s sports run in 2021 hasn’t been easy. The tennis player dropped out of the French Open in May 2021 due to disagreements over media appearances with the French Open organizers. It escalated after she received a fine for skipping a press conference, as Osaka cited her mental health as her reason for dropping out. "I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly," she wrote on Twitter. "The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018, and I have had a really hard time coping with that."
At the beginning of the 2021 U.S. Open, Osaka posted a note to her fans on Twitter on Aug. 29. The lengthy statement discussed her reflections about the past year, revealing that “internally [she] thinks [she’s] never good enough.” But, she added, "I’m gonna try to celebrate myself and my accomplishments more."
When the game on Sept. 3 went down in Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City, spectators could see Osaka was struggling with keeping cool during her match against 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada. The game was so close, but Fernandez eventually took the advantage after forcing a tiebreak and getting the following five points. Then, Osaka threw her racket on the grow a few times until the umpire gave her a warning for hitting a ball into the stands. The game ended 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4, Fernandez triumphing.
One of the reporters at the conference asked Osaka why she struggled to maintain her cool, to which Osaka explained, "I'm not really sure why [I did that]," apologizing to the spectators. "I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point. Normally I like challenges, but recently I feel very anxious when things don't go my way."
You can watch the full interview with Osaka below:
Despite Osaka’s hardships, she’s still one of the biggest athletes there is, ranking as the highest-paid female athlete in the world. Among her accomplishments are the February 2021 win at the Australian Open, her record of being one of the only players to win their first four Grand Slam final appearances, and the honor of lighting the cauldron at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
No matter when she gets back on the court, the important thing is that she’s standing up for herself and her mental health.