At a post-match interview at the U.S. Open last week, Naomi Osaka said a tearful goodbye to the sport. The decision seemed to be perpetuated by her the defending champion’s stunning loss to Leyla Fernandez. The loss was a surprising ending to her first Grand Slam back from withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year due to mental health concerns.
After her US Open defeat, Osaka spoke to the press about the sport she has dominated time and time again for many years. Osaka admits that her journey has become joyless, experiencing relief following her victories and sadness after losses. Towards the end of the interview, she speaks possibly her last public words in a tennis press event for the foreseeable future.
“This is very hard to articulate. Basically, I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry.
I think I’m going to take a break from playing for while.
How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win, I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”
When asked what could have caused her to lose the match, she added that it was not a technicality of returning her opponent’s serves or being in an unfamiliar competition situation. She alludes that “we’re all dealing with some stuff, but I know that I’m dealing with some stuff.”
It is unclear how long Osaka’s hiatus from tennis will be, but it appears that she will not be returning to the courts any time soon, as she struggles to find the meaning of playing the game she has reigned for years.
Elsewhere in sports, Klay Thompson announced he is “going to bounce back” upon his return to the NBA.