On Sunday, Naomi Osaka competed in and won her first match in the Olympics against Zheng Saisai. It was also her first since being fined back $15,000 back in May and withdrawing from the French Open citing mental health concerns.
The comeback comes fresh off the heels of her Netflix documentary, a three-part limited series that was released on July 16. The doc follows Osaka through her life and career and gives viewers a peek inside her innermost thoughts. There are several major lessons and grand takeaways anyone can garner upon watching. This article will explore a few of those as it pertains to being a driven woman of color.
Episode 1: Rise
"I just want her to, like, take care of herself," Naomi Osaka told reporters after winning against Coco Gauff in round three of the US Open 2019. A clip of the press conference comes halfway through the first episode. Though she was speaking about Gauff, the statement almost serves as a foreshadowing of what is to come.
Just two days later, Osaka lost in round 16 to Belinda Becic – a blow that put her championship title up for grabs. Though the loss ended her tennis season, it jumpstarted a media storm that left her little time to rest and recoup from the heavy schedule getting so far in the games demanded of her.
"I feel like... I really, like... need to take a mental break and just, like... chill out," she says later as a stylist wraps her in a red Japanese kimono robe.
The episode ends with Osaka realizing that she has spent most of her life tying winning to her worth as a person and not knowing who she is apart from being a good tennis player.
It's sometimes easy to pardon ourselves from practicing self-care in the name of ambition. It's so easy, in fact, that we don't even realize we're doing it – not in the beginning anyway. We put in late hours, eat crappy food, and barely drink enough water. We allow ourselves to run on fumes, depleting every ounce of fuel in our health tanks.
Crash and burn.
When the hustle becomes the most important thing in our lives, it's important to ask why. What is it about working until the wheels fall off that validates us and how can we implement fulfillment instead?
Where can we make health and wellness a priority throughout the workday as opposed to making self-care and ambition an either-or situation?
Episode 2: Champion Mentality
Osaka transitioned from the court to the runway as she debuted her collaboration with Adeam at New York Fashion Week. The line of minimal, yet elegant pieces was well-received.
While Osaka seemed to enjoy doing something other than slamming balls over a net for once, there was concern that taking attention away from the sport would actually hinder her success.