Naomi Osaka breaks down in tears in Cincinnati: “I was ashamed to leave home, now I feel proud”

Broken in tears, Naomi Osaka was once again vulnerable and sensitive to the media on her return to competition. The Japanese will debut in the Cincinnati tournament next Monday, but she attended to the press this Monday, after the first training sessions. After a few questions, the athlete, sweet and kind at all times, fell apart after explaining how she feels when she realizes that everything she does or says could end up stamped in a newspaper, published on social networks or turned into a debate televised.

During her meeting with the media, a local journalist pointed out her little devotion to the press while she, as a public figure, takes advantage of the projection that the media platforms give her: “You are not a big fan of dealing with media, especially in this press conference format, but you have interests other than tennis. How do you think you should be able to balance those two things in the best way? ”Asks the Cincinnati Enquirer reporter. “I can’t speak for others, I do it for myself. But since I was very young I have always aroused a lot of interest in the media, because of my background, how I play, in the end I am a tennis player. There are things that I say or tweet that generate a lot of new articles because I won a couple of grand slam and because I do a lot of press conferences, and that’s the way things go. But I really don’t know how to manage it, I’m working on it ”, he confessed.

And although she answered very whole, it broke just when she finished. She looked up trying to hold back the tears. But it was in vain. He covered himself with the brim of his cap, tried to compose himself to answer the next question, but could not. A journalist asked her at that time about her preparation and about how she was living the news that came from Haiti, especially moving for her given that her father is Haitian. Osaka couldn’t go on. The press conference stopped for a few moments and the athlete returned somewhat more confident after a five-minute break.

And he answered the question that he had left halfway. “Regarding Haiti, I have the feeling that I can do more than I do. That is why I am looking at how to help, in what way is better to do it. Donating the prize money from this tournament is the first thing I thought of. For that, I have to get it right. That’s why I said it. The bad thing is that I watch the news every day and it’s really terrible ”, he assumed. The winner in Cincinnati will get $ 255,220 (about 216,839 euros), the runner-up, $ 188,945 (160,504 euros) and the semifinalists, $ 100,250 (85,160 euros).

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Osaka is one of the best tennis players in the world. Number three in the WTA ranking, the Japanese arrives in Cincinnati after hers was one of the proper names of the Olympic Games. Months before, she had left Paris forced by the organization after refusing to speak to the media; In addition, she was the athlete with the greatest projection in the host country of the Olympic Games and she was also the athlete who would light the Tokyo 2020 cauldron. Her participation in the tennis tournament did not go for much. She lost in the third round to China’s Saisai Zheng. “I had been waiting for these Games for almost eight years, because I could not be in Rio. And I had the feeling that since then everyone was talking to me about Tokyo. I feel a little sad about how I was eliminated, but also happy that I did not fall in the first round, “she explained from Ohio.

The one in Cincinnati will be her return to competition tournament, and the first time she has re-enrolled in a women’s tour open after leaving Roland Garros in May and later giving up Wimbledon due to a mental health problem.

Locked up at home

Asked about her escape from Paris as soon as she set foot in the Cincinnati press room, Osaka opened up. “At the time, it wasn’t that I was proud, but it was something I felt I had to do. For me. I locked myself at home for a couple of weeks, I was embarrassed to go out. I knew that people would look at me differently than they did before. But what opened my eyes was going to the Games and seeing how other athletes would come and tell me that they were super happy that I had done what I did. After that I do feel proud of what I did and I think it was something that had to be done ”.

The tennis player, he explained, wrote to Simone Biles, but did not want to bother her anymore. “I wanted to give him his space, because I know how overwhelming it can be.”

Overexposure takes its toll on many athletes and Osaka is one of those who has raised her voice this year, along with Biles, who followed her example at the Tokyo Games, where everyone looked at her with a magnifying glass and expected her to become the best gymnast of all time. It could not be. He barely managed to compete in the bar final. And he took a bronze, solo a medal, after being the great absentee from the team and combined final. But he smiled. And it made visible that mental health affects many, athletes or not.

Olivia Podmore’s death raises awareness about mental health in sport

Olivia Podmore, a New Zealand cyclist, died at the age of 24. She was found dead at her home a week ago, when the debate about the pressure exerted on elite athletes was most alive and when the world was most aware of the importance of mental health in the Olympic Games.

The Podmore case stirred consciences even more. Although the causes of her death were not confirmed that Monday, a friend of the athlete focused on her state of mind after not having been selected by the national team to participate in the Games. Podmore had been to Rio 2016. Shortly after the news, the New Zealand cycling federation reported that it will review the aids and support offered to athletes.

“Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have focused on mental health after their own personal difficulties. Olivia’s fight was the same, ”denounced Olympic rowing champion Eddy Murray, a partner from Podmore.

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Naomi Osaka breaks down in tears in Cincinnati: “I was ashamed to leave home, now I feel proud”

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