Netflix’s Naomi Osaka doc quietly explains why she withdrew


The phrase “self-care” has been diminished to parody lately from overuse. This 10 a.m. milkshake is self-care as a result of I’m bored. Skipping my good friend’s marriage ceremony is self-care, as a result of one of many groomsmen is annoying. When tennis phenom Naomi Osaka introduced again in Might, nonetheless, that she wouldn’t be doing press for this summer season’s French Open (as self-care for her psychological well being), it was not a frivolous or entitled indulgence. It was one of many world’s prime athletes experimenting with setting boundaries. The following uproar round her choice led Osaka to bow out of the tournament altogether, the primary time a tennis star of her stature has ever hit the eject button on such a significant match with out being bodily injured.

The 23-year-old powerhouse, who’s the world’s highest-paid female athlete, quickly provided an evidence on Instagram. She is an introvert who will get heavy social nervousness, particularly when speaking with international media, and suffers from despair. Osaka’s sister, Mari, further clarified that Naomi all the time performs worse on clay courts like these on the French Open, and the press there tends to hound her about it each time. Between these two accounts, it’s fairly clear what occurred on the match and why. Anybody looking for a extra full rationalization, nonetheless, want solely look to Netflix’s new three-part documentary sequence, Naomi Osaka—even if it by no means mentions the 2021 French Open even as soon as.

[Photo: Netflix]

Directed by Garrett Bradley, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind Time, the just-released sequence follows Osaka from when she first beat lifelong idol Serena Williams in 2018 by to her embrace of Black Lives Matter activism in late summer season 2020. The 2018 U.S. Open is a perfect place to begin, as a result of as Osaka revealed in her Instagram post this summer, her despair started across the time she gained the primary of her 4 Grand Slam championship titles. She by no means utters the phrase despair within the movie, however she doesn’t have to. From the second of that unbelievable victory, earned in entrance of a stadium stuffed with loud Williams followers, Osaka is thrust into in a single day superstardom.

Not for one second does she appear comfy with it.


Osaka has the tender, measured talking cadence of a deeply shy particular person, and she treasures her privateness. As a result of she is now some of the well-known individuals on the earth, nonetheless, she is required to bop round continually from awkward picture shoot to awkward Ellen look, usually gliding previous a billboard together with her face peering out in an approximation of athletic focus. She has a group that surrounds her and pumps her up, however she nonetheless appears lonely inside their firm. Within the movie, virtually in every single place she goes a revolving scrum of cameras and microphones follows. It appears to be devouring her.

“I believe the quantity of consideration I get is form of ridiculous,” she says early on. “No one prepares you for that.”

[Photo: Netflix]

We see how all the eye and strain will get to her. Osaka has hassle sleeping typically, particularly after a loss. She worries about not representing half-Black, half-Japanese children properly. She feels suffocated by the inoffensive picture she feels required to keep up. She feels despair on the fleeting nature of profitable, the way in which that changing into a champion means having to defend your championship, again and again, till retirement.

Fortunately, the sequence additionally captures Osaka throughout an introspective, transitional second of determining learn how to exist inside her new circumstances—and learn how to use her platform. On the 2019 U.S. Open, she warmed hearts all over the world by inviting defeated 15-year-old opponent Coco Gauff to do a post-match interview alongside her. Though the second was widely documented on the time, the documentary provides essential context and close-up footage.

“Will you do the interview with me?” Osaka says to a teary-eyed Gauff. “I’ve executed this earlier than.”

“I believe I’m gonna cry the entire interview,” Gauff says, overwhelmed with gratitude.


“I believe it’s higher than going into the bathe and crying,” Osaka replies. “Let individuals know the way you’re feeling.”

From the whole lot viewers have seen up till this level, it’s apparent that Osaka needs Gauff to know all of the issues that she didn’t earlier than her time within the highlight.

From the whole lot we’ve discovered about her since then, between her activism last summer and her act of self-care at this 12 months’s French Open, it’s apparent that Osaka has discovered to take her personal recommendation, and let individuals know the way she feels.