Naomi Osaka is getting real about the "pressure" and "sacrifices" that come with being in the public eye.
The U.S. Open champ, 23, opened up about the difficulties she has faced in her career during her upcoming documentary series, Naomi Osaka, streaming on Netflix on July 16.
In the trailer for the three-part show, an empowered Osaka explains, "I always had this pressure to maintain the squeaky image, but now I don't care what anyone has to say."
She starts by reflecting on what it's taken her to get here: "No one really knows all the sacrifices that you make just to be good... Before I won the U.S. Open, so many people told my dad I would never be anything."
Now, she has garnered 2.5 million Instagram followers and four Grand Slam singles titles, but doesn't necessarily understand the publicity she receives as a tennis pro. "I think the amount of attention I get is kind of ridiculous. No one prepares you for that," she narrates. "I don't know, I feel like I'm struggling."
Osaka continues, "For so long, I've tied winning to my worth as a person. To anyone that would know me, they know me for being a tennis player. So what am I, if I'm not a good tennis player?"
So, she decided used her platform for causes close to her heart, participating in recent Black Lives Matter events and speaking out after the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Elijah McClain, whose names appear onscreen. "None of these deaths had to happen and I just want everyone to know the names," the athlete shares.
In a Netflix press release, Osaka adds, "I feel like the platform that I have right now is something that I used to take for granted, and for me I feel like I should be using it for something. I believe, instead of following, you have to make your own path."
Naomi Osaka, directed by Oscar nominee Garrett Bradley, seems to shed more light on the personal challenges she's been facing all year. In May, Osaka withdrew from the French Open to prioritize her mental health, after she was fined $15,000 for boycotting a press conference.
"I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer," she wrote on Instagram afterward. "More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. 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."
And last month, she withdrew from the 2021 Wimbledon Championships as well, with her rep revealing, "She is taking some personal time with friends and family."
As Bradley describes in the press release, "The series is about Naomi's journey, within a snapshot of her life, but it's also about life's purpose, about personal worth, about the courage that it takes to allow one's personal values to inform their work and vice versa."
The Queen Sugar director hopes that viewers "can feel the power of empathy" from watching her, and "feel encouraged to take chances in life," especially when "the stakes can feel impossibly high."