AP Photo / John Minchillo
Three weeks after announcing that she was stepping away from tennis for the time being, Naomi Osaka opened up about her potential return.
Appearing on HBO The shop, Osaka said she was sure to play again and “probably soon.”
“Of course I love sports,” she explained. “I know I’m going to play again, probably soon because I have this itch again. But it wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost. I would just have the joy of being back on. the pitch. Just for, like, you know, I do it for myself.
After losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open on September 3, the 23-year-old tearfully declared during her press conference that she needed to take a step back.
“I feel like for myself, recently like when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like relief. And then when I lose I feel very sad,” Osaka noted. “I don’t think this is normal.”
Speaking on the show, Osaka noted that it was important for her to “feel like I’m playing for myself” when she returns to the pitch:
“And I started to feel that power was taken away from me. And the way I felt, like I wasn’t playing to make myself happy and I was more concerned with… what people would say about me.
“I used to love competition and just being competitive. Like I had to play a long game, the longer it was the more fun it was for me. I got stressed out. But I just needed a pause to get inside myself. “
Osaka took a two-month hiatus earlier this year after pulling out of Roland Garros ahead of their second-round match against Ana Bogdan. Her decision came after she said before the tournament started that she would skip post-match press conferences.
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All four Grand Slam tournaments responded in a declaration, claiming that Osaka would be fined if she did not attend the press conferences.
Osaka returned to competition at the Olympics in July. The Japanese star was one of the torchbearers of the Tokyo Games. She also played in the Western & Southern Open and the US Open before taking a sabbatical.
The WTA has four more events in 2021 before the end of the season. The 2022 Australian Open is scheduled to start on January 17.