Naomi Osaka suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of unranked Leylah Annie Fernandez at the U.S. Open Friday night. Somehow, it wasn’t even the most shocking development of the evening.
Osaka, 23, was visibly frustrated during her match against Fernandez. She tossed several rackets, hit a ball into the stands and struggled to maintain any sense of composure. Even the crowd turned against her about halfway through the match, backing Fernandez in the process. Overall, it was an ugly and disappointing outing.
The 23-year-old superstar then shocked the tennis and sports world during her post-match press conference. Osaka announced that she will be taking a break from tennis for the foreseeable future.
“I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy,” Osaka revealed. “I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. 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.”
Naomi Osaka said she is going to take a break from playing tennis “for a while.” pic.twitter.com/xNAO4ZBJyU
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 4, 2021
This is a rather unfortunate development, but shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Naomi Osaka has struggled with depression this year.
“Possible we just saw the last of Naomi Osaka for a long time,” said ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg via Twitter. “Got very emotional in her post game press conference, said she needs a break from tennis because it no longer brings her joy. Don’t know when she’ll play again. Big moment.”
It’s disappointing we may not get to see Osaka play tennis for a while, but she needs to do what’s best for her mental health.
We have to change the way we are talking about Naomi Osaka. To bring her mental health into any & everything isn’t fair, unless SHE attributes it to that. To say her being frustrated in this match is because of that just feels unfair & tacky. Don’t hold her openness over her head
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) September 4, 2021
— TWDTV (@TWDTV1) September 4, 2021
We’ll be here when and if @naomiosaka decides to return to playing. She is a very young woman – talented, courageous, sensitive and strong – and on her journey. Tennis is what she does, not who she is. She’ll find her way with time. https://t.co/JwCuTuCNmu
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) September 4, 2021
Y’all I don’t even play sports and the lessons @naomiosaka and @Simone_Biles have taught us this year have had such a big impact on me. I have mad respect for both of these women and it goes so far beyond their athletic achievements 🤩
— Former 4 Year Fan (@Former4YearFan) September 4, 2021
We wish Naomi all the best as she steps away from the game for the foreseeable future.