Over the past few years, Naomi Osaka has won over a lot of fans not for her performances on the tennis court but for what she stands for and advocates off the court. The 25-year-old has become an extremely vocal advocate for mental health and prioritizing the same over the demands of the sport she loves so dearly.
"I Dress Like a Bum”- How Naomi Osaka Remains Incognito While Traveling
Demands of Fame
Given that she is one of the biggest names in the sport, it is common for Osaka to get recognized when she is out and about. While she admits that she does love spending time with her fans and stopping to click pictures and sign autographs, at some points, solitude is something that is extremely important to her. Fans got an in-depth look into the demands of her life and how she has been able to juggle all that is on her plate in her documentary Naomi Osaka which came out last year.
Incognito at the Airport
In a recent interview, Osaka revealed how she avoids detection at airports and other crowded places. She said, “It’s pleasant sometimes. I’m no international tennis star, but it’s pleasant to be anonymous at times. There are several times I go to the airport, and I dress like a bum.”
She went on to share an instance where she was at a security check at the airport where she was pulled aside for further identification. She handed over her passport to the female attendant who was left flabbergasted upon reading the name on the passport.
Osaka said, "And it’s just so funny to me. So then she’s like, “are you…?” and I’m like, “yeah.” and I just take my passport and I leave.”
Importance of Mental Health
Osaka first stressed the importance of mental health in her career by pulling out of the 2021 French Open. Osaka initially said that she would not be completing her media obligations as she wanted to focus on her mental health. However, this was not something the governing body was okay with and they threatened the 25-year-old with possible penalties for the same. The Japanese-born star decided it was best for all parties to withdraw from the tournament. This was the first time in recent memory that a top-seeded player pulled out of a tournament citing mental health reasons.
Unfortunately for Osaka, injuries have meant that she has played just over 30 matches overall since the 2021 French Open. Even when she did step on the court, her form has been abysmal due to the lack of activity. Most recently, she withdrew from her second-round contest against Beatriz Haddad Maia at the Pan Pacific Open due to an abdominal injury.
Over the last few months, ankle, back, and abdominal injuries have kept her out of action. Despite a rough year, Osaka remains optimistic and looks at the bright side in terms of all that she has achieved. She said, "I think life is ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up but overall, I'm pretty happy with where I am right now."