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‘Naomi Osaka’ docuseries takes intimate look at tennis star

It was taped over a two-year period starting with the 2019 U.S. Open. It concludes in early 2021 before Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open.

LOS ANGELES — Those looking for definitive answers about Naomi Osaka and how she copes with the demands of her career and fame shouldn’t expect to find them in a new Netflix docuseries about the four-time Grand Slam champion.

It’s the tennis star’s unresolved questions that are the heart of “Naomi Osaka,” director-producer Garrett Bradley said of the series that was taped over a two-year period starting with the 2019 U.S. Open. Production concluded in early 2021 before Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open.

The three-part series debuting Friday is a contemplative, intimate look at a young athlete finding her way. Film of major tournaments, wins and losses, is interwoven with scenes of Osaka’s time with family and her boyfriend, the rapper Cordae; her training and business demands; Osaka’s reflections on her career, multiracial identity and the death of mentor Kobe Bryant, and her decision to protest police killings of Black men and women.

“It was really important for me to not go into the project with an agenda or really even with an opinion,” Bradley, a 2021 Oscar nominee for the documentary “Time,” said. “I really tried to open myself up to her world and where she was at, and tried to understand the sort of essence of who she was.”

As filming progressed, she said, it became clear that the series’ foundation would be the conundrums faced not only by Osaka but society at large.

Those inquiries are “connected to value systems and self-definition, and how one can create a more holistic understanding of themselves in any given environment that they find themselves in,” said Bradley, whose fellow producers include LeBron James, under the umbrella of his SpringHill production company.

Osaka, 23, who was not made available for an interview, withdrew from the French Open last May, citing “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media and revealing that she has suffered long bouts of depression.

She also skipped the just-ended Wimbledon, with her agent saying she wanted personal time, but is expected to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics for her native Japan. Osaka was just a few years old when she, her sister and their Japanese mother and Haitian father moved to the United States.

In a Time magazine essay published July 8, Osaka wrote that, “Believe it or not, I am naturally introverted and do not court the spotlight. I always try to push myself to speak up for what I believe to be right, but that often comes at a cost of great anxiety.”

“I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s O.K. to not be O.K., and it’s O.K. to talk about it. There are people who can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel,” she said, thanking Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps and other public figures for offering support.

The Netflix docuseries includes footage of Osaka and her sister, Mari, on the court as youngsters, with the tennis star recalling spending at least eight hours a day at practice, adding, “I was just tired.”

Mari Osaka, 25, also played professional tennis but said in a social media post in March that she was retiring from the sport because it was “a journey which I didn’t enjoy ultimately.”

The docuseries sketches a portrait of Naomi Osaka as thoughtful and driven to succeed but struggling to cope with her sport’s demands and her future. At one moment of self-reflection she says, “So what am I, if not a good tennis player?”

Filmmaker Bradley cautions that the series should not be seen as definitive, but rather a snapshot of a brief period in a life that continues to “evolve and grow.”

“This moment that we captured was her in the process of a learning curve, which I think she directly articulates really beautifully, (that) there are elements of fame that are hard to be prepared for,” Bradley said. “The sustenance that she finds is in accepting where she is currently in this moment, and certainly in her family and in her loved ones, but also is in finding her own voice. And that includes choosing when to use it and when not to.”

Asked how she perceived Osaka’s emotional well-being, Bradley said she considers her “an incredibly strong and really brilliant person.”

“She’s in control of her own narrative, and I think that’s a beautiful thing,” she said.

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Naomi Osaka opens up about mental health, Olympics in TIME piece

“Lesson one: you can never please everyone,” Naomi Osaka wrote in an essay for TIME about taking a break from tennis to focus on her mental health.

WASHINGTON — Star tennis player Naomi Osaka opened up about her mental health break following the French Open and how she hopes to make Japanese fans “proud” during the Tokyo Olympics in an essay for TIME magazine.

In May, Osaka was fined $ 15,000 when she didn’t speak to reporters after her first-round victory at the French Open. The next day, she pulled out of the tournament entirely, saying she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before meeting with the media and revealing she has “suffered long bouts of depression.”

She addressed her decision in a TIME essay by saying, “Lesson one: you can never please everyone.” She explains that she decided not to speak with reporters during the press conference because she needed to “take care of myself mentally.” However, she said she could have been more prepared for the repercussion and criticism that followed. 

“Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions,” Osaka suggests. “In any other line of work, you would be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, so long as it’s not habitual.”

Osaka also says former First Lady Michelle Obama and sports stars Novak Djokovic, Michael Phelps and Stephen Curry were among those who reached out to offer support after she withdrew from the French Open.

Osaka also highlighted how, in her opinion, she believes the press conference format is “out of date and in great need of a refresh.” She hopes her decision to miss the press conference would encourage a critical look at the system and potentially make a change for the better.

In June, Osaka announced she would skip Wimbledon, but is prepared and excited to compete in the Olympics, which begin in two weeks on July 23.

Before the games, Osaka wrote for TIME she could not be more excited to play.

“An Olympic Games itself is special, but to have the opportunity to play in front of the Japanese fans is a dream come true,” Osaka wrote. “I hope I can make them proud.”

Osaka is a 23-year-old who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father; the family moved to the United States when she was 3 and she is still based there.

Osaka has been ranked No. 1 and is currently No. 2; she is the highest-earning female athlete and was the 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year. She is 14-3 this season, including a title at the Australian Open in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Author: Erin McHugh
Read more here >>> CBS8 – Sports

Naomi Osaka withdraws from Wimbledon after Rafael Nadal also pulls out of Grand Slam

The Spaniard missed out on his chance to win Grand Slam No 21 at the French Open, losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

But, while Osaka is planning to be back in action at the Tokyo Olympics, Nadal insists he needs more time to look after his body.

“Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Nadal tweeted.

“It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Naomi Osaka put her mental health first

Dorothy Chin is an associate research psychologist at University of California, Los Angeles. Tamra Burns Loeb is an associate adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. This article originally featured on The Conversation.

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka announced that she would withdraw from the French Open after she was fined and threatened with being disqualified for not speaking to media during the tournament to protect her mental health.

Naomi Osaka put her mental health first

French Open officials and others initially reacted not with concern but by criticizing her for not fulfilling her obligations. This occurred despite the fact that her refusal came after a first-round win, unlike others fined for skipping press conferences after losses.

The evolving maelstrom that has followed weighs two priorities—the obligation to fulfill one’s job requirements, which in Osaka’s case includes talking to the press—and protecting one’s mental wellness. While a physical injury is routinely accepted as a legitimate reason for not performing aspects of one’s duties, mental or emotional injury has yet to reach the same level of attention or legitimacy. For instance, Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers did not speak to the press after suffering a groin strain earlier this week. This decision, while discussed in the media, was accepted. His injury even led to talk about whether athletes should have shorter seasons and lighter loads.

As research psychologists who study the effects of culture and trauma on mental health, we’re taking note of how these issues play out in Osaka’s predicament.

Taking heat for protesting

As a high-profile Black athlete, Osaka has taken a leading role protesting the death of George Floyd and other African Americans who died at the hands of police, wearing a mask with a different name on each match day at the 2020 U.S. Open. Elite athletes who speak out on social justice issues have often faced a backlash for their stances.

Osaka, who is Black, Asian, and female, may have contended with an even greater sense of vulnerability this past year, in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and the increased violence against Asian Americans. Studies have shown that individuals suffer from vicarious trauma when members of their group are targeted and discriminated against. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the norms in Osaka’s native Japanese culture frown upon speaking out, which could exacerbate anxiety and vulnerability.

Osaka’s gender also may have contributed to the negative reaction following her refusal to do press conferences and her subsequent withdrawal. There may be an implicit expectation that women accommodate questioning no matter how inappropriate the questions or uncomfortable they may feel, while male athletes may be accommodated for remaining silent.

Pressing problems with stigma

For several years, even before the pandemic, Osaka has explained that speaking with members of the media during press conferences causes her anxiety and sometimes feels like being bullied. She has alluded to being shy, even “really depressed” after losing a match. She has said she grew anxious “off the court, if I was ever thrown into a situation where I had to speak in front of 100 people, I feel like I would start shaking.” She tweeted that she has experienced long bouts of depression and anxiety triggered by speaking to the press.

The misery and loss that many endured during the pandemic year are resulting in poorer mental health, particularly for ethnic minorities. It’s not surprising that this manifests in the workplace – in Osaka’s case, a press conference – and needs to be reckoned with.

And, stigma surrounding mental health issues is more pronounced among African Americans and Asians, where personal concerns are expected to remain private.

There is a long-held notion that individuals suffering from mental distress should just get over it. The crux of the matter is that people don’t think about mental challenges the same way as physical injury. For hundreds of years, society upheld the notion that the mentally ill were morally deficient or lacked character. Families banished mentally ill members and rendered them invisible.

Bringing mental health out of the closet

Mental health is an essential part of one’s overall health, and mental illnesses are extremely common, yet mental health is often overlooked, minimized or stigmatized. Approximately 20 percent of US adults age 18 or older (nearly 47 million individuals) report having a mental illness. The prevalence of mental illness is higher among females than males, in part due to greater social and economic difficulties that women face.

Among people age 15 to 44, depression is the most common cause of disability in the US. In addition, many individuals suffer from more than one mental illness, and depression and anxiety often occur together. In December, the US Census Bureau reported that 42 percent of U.S. adults experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, a six-fold increase during the pandemic. Finally, the prevalence of mental illness is highest among adults with more than one racial or ethnic affiliation.

Addressing mental wellness in the workplace

Despite its common occurrence, about half of US workers worry about discussing mental health challenges in the workplace, and are afraid of negative repercussions to if they ask for help.

We hope that Osaka’s choice to make her mental health struggles public serves as an inflection point in how mental illness is perceived and addressed in professional settings. Among elite athletes in particular, the perception of invincibility may inhibit any disclosure of emotional struggles, which reinforces the idea that such struggles are a sign of weakness. Yes, talking to the press is currently part of the job, but perhaps the dimensions of the job need to be reexamined when they contribute to poor mental health, on par with discussions about physical health.

One suggestion is to provide players opportunities to participate in decisions about issues that affect the level of stress experienced in their profession. In general, workplace policy should be updated to reflect the importance of mental health as a key aspect of overall well-being. Wellness programs can screen for depression, anxiety, and other sources of stress, provide support and facilitate linkages with appropriate treatment.

Naomi Osaka is just 23, but she has already won four major tournaments and emerged as a leader among her peers in social justice issues. That she has disclosed her experiences with depression and anxiety and is seeking to protect her well-being, in spite of the backlash, may be the ultimate reflection of her mental toughness.

Author: Purbita Saha
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

App shows support for Naomi Osaka with donation, offers to pay fines for other players

PARIS, France — An app that bills itself as helping with “sleep, relaxation and meditation” says it is showing support for Naomi Osaka by offering to pay fines for tennis players who don’t fulfill 2021 Grand Slam media obligations for mental health reasons.

Calm also tweeted Wednesday that it would donate $ 15,000 — the amount Osaka was fined for skipping her postmatch news conference at the French Open — to a group in France that it says works “in the mental health space.”

Osaka is a four-time major champion and the world’s No. 2-ranked tennis player who said she didn’t want to speak to the press at Roland Garros.

She revealed she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before meeting with the media and said she has “suffered long bouts of depression.”

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Professional athletes, others show support for Naomi Osaka

Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, confirmed that the world’s No. 2-ranked tennis player was pulling out before her match in Paris.

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open, starting off Monday with the earthshattering news in the world of sports. Osaka wrote on Twitter that she would be taking a break from competition, a dramatic turn of events for a four-time Grand Slam champion who said she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking to the media and revealed she has “suffered long bouts of depression.” 
Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, confirmed that the world’s No. 2-ranked tennis player was pulling out before her second-round match at the clay-court tournament in Paris.
Sports stars and other supporters reacted to the decision of the tennis star’s withdrawal from the French Open on Monday.
“I feel for Naomi. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can.” — Serena Williams said. 
“I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok.” — Martina Navratilova.
“It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression.” — Billie Jean King.
“You shouldn’t ever have to make a decision like this-but so damn impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don’t protect their own. major respect.” — Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
“Love, respect, and positive energy your way.” — Cavaliers forward Kevin Love.
“It’s so sad that we are in a time that when a young person tells you they need help or a break, people respond with anger and a lack of support! … Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.” — Former WNBA star Lisa Leslie.

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Naomi Osaka blasted by Piers Morgan as rivals left to face criticism 'Got what she wanted'

Piers Morgan has criticised Naomi Osaka after she pulled out of the French Open following backlash over a media boycott. The outspoken TV presenter has launched a stinging attack on the Japanese tennis star who announced last week that she would not be attending any press conferences at this year’s tournament.
The response included threats to expel her from the event by the Grand Slam board and the world No 2 then announced that she would be withdrawing from the event.

“What journalist will dare criticise Naomi Osaka ever again?” said Morgan.

“She’s got what she wanted – no more criticism, only praise. Meanwhile all her fellow tennis professionals will continue to fulfil their contractual obligations to the media & get criticism when deserved.

“This seem fair?”

Osaka released a statement on Monday evening to announce her shock withdrawal.

JUST IN: Roger Federer might not win the French Open, but he can still derail his rivals’ chances

“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.

“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.

“Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.

“I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.

“So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.

“I announced it preemptively because I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that.

“I wrote privately to the tournament apologising and saying that I would be more than happy to speak with them after the tournament as the slams are intense.

“I’m gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right I really want to work with the tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

4-time Slam champion Naomi Osaka pulls out of French Open

Osaka wrote on Twitter that “the best thing for the tournament” would be if she pulled out and took a break from competition.

PARIS, France — Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday and wrote on Twitter that she would be taking a break from competition, a dramatic turn of events for a four-time Grand Slam champion who said she has “suffered long bouts of depression.”
Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the world’s No. 2-ranked tennis player was pulling out before her second-round match at the clay-court tournament in Paris.
A spokeswoman for the French Open said she was not aware that Osaka had formally withdrawn from the field.
Osaka had declared last week on Twitter that she would not “do any press during Roland Garros.”
She framed the matter as a mental health issue, saying that it can create self-doubt to have to answer questions after a loss.
After winning her opening match Sunday and skipping her news conference, Osaka was fined $ 15,000 — and threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with possible additional punishment, including disqualification or suspension.
RELATED: Naomi Osaka says she won’t do news conferences at French Open, welcomes fines
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka wrote Monday. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.”
She also spoke about dealing with depression since the 2018 U.S. Open, which she won by beating Serena Williams in a final filled with controversy.
“I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly,” Osaka wrote.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety. … I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media,” her post continued.
Osaka has never been past the third round at the French Open, a clay-court tournament. It takes seven victories to win a Grand Slam title, which she has done at hard-court tournaments: the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2020; the Australian Open in 2019 and this February.
“Here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences,” she wrote.
Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so. The maximum fine of $ 20,000, of course, is not a big deal to Osaka, the world’s highest-earning female athlete thanks to endorsement contracts totaling tens of millions of dollars.
Other players, notably 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and No. 1-ranked Ash Barty, have said they respect Osaka’s right to take a stance but explained that they consider speaking to reporters part of the job.
After Osaka’s post Monday, several athletes in tennis and other sports tweeted their support.
Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, wrote: “I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok. As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi- we are all pulling for you!”
AP Sports Writer Sam Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report.
More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Naomi Osaka fined £12.9k as French Open threaten to kick star out of tournament

Tennis star Naomi Osaka has been fined and threatened with being kicked out of the French Open after snubbing her media duties at Roland Garros. The Japanese player has been fined £12,900 (€15,000) after deciding to boycott press conferences at the tournament. Osaka announced on Wednesday that she would not be conducting press conferences at the tournament, which began on Sunday and runs until May 13.

“I’m writing this to say I’m not doing any press at Roland Garros,” she said in a statement posted on her Twitter account on May 26.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health [sic] and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.

“We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”

Osaka defeated Patricia Maria Tig in her first round at the French Open. The 23-year-old won the second set on a tiebreaker, 7-4, after winning the first set 6-4.

She will face Ana Bogdan in the second round.

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“She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players. 

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $ 15,000 (£12,900) fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct.

“The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.

“We individually and collectively have significant resources dedicated to player well-being.

“In order to continue to improve however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences.

“Every year we seek to deliver better experiences to our fans, our players and our people, and we have a long and successful track record in achievement on this count.

“A core element of the Grand Slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves.

“These interactions allow both the players and the media to share their perspective and for the players to tell their story.

“The facilitation of media to a broad array of channels, both traditional and digital, is a major contributor to the development and growth of our sport and the fan base of individual players.

“We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences.

“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed