World number 2 Naomi Osaka sat for her first press conference since the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on Monday, answering questions from reporters on Media Day at the Western and Southern Open . The reigning US Open and Australian Open champion is set to play her first tournament of the North American summer season on hard court this week in Cincinnati. Last summer, Osaka kicked off its summer campaign by qualifying for its first final in Cincinnati.
Here are five notable quotes from Osaka’s candid press conference, which covered topics of her experience at Tokyo 2020, Cincinnati’s preparation and how she feels after her decision to pull out of Roland Garros and Wimbledon for reasons. mental health.
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On her preparation for the hard courts in the United States as she contemplates her title defense at the US Open and expectations in Cincinnati, where she donates her prize to Haiti earthquake relief efforts :
“I would say when I got back from Tokyo I took three days off and then immediately started training again. For me, I felt like I played well in Tokyo, but he there were still decisions that I didn’t make, well, I just wanted to get that feeling back because I honestly haven’t played a lot of games this year.
“So I guess I’ll see how that leads me and how well I’m going to do this tournament and sort of lead it from there to New York.”
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“Of course I would really love to win this tournament for the extra motivation I have to give an organization my cash prize for Haiti, of course. But I accidentally saw my draw so I know how good it is. be tough and I know how tough the players are here.
“So I would say I try to take one game at a time, and I don’t even know who my opponent will be, so I just try to train really hard every day and see where it takes me.
Find out if she’s proud of herself after her decision to raise mental health awareness this summer.
“I would say for myself, at that point, I wasn’t really proud. I felt like it was something I had to do for myself. More than anything, I had it. I felt like I was locking myself in my house for a few weeks, and I was a little embarrassed to go out because I didn’t know if people looked at me any differently than before.
“I think the biggest eye-opener was going to the Olympics and seeing other athletes come over to me and tell me that they were really happy that I did what I did. So after all that, yes, I’m proud of what I did, and I think it was something that needed to be done. “
On her experience at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she became the first tennis player to light an Olympic torch and qualified for the third round in singles.
“The Tokyo Olympics, I’ve been waiting for them for almost eight years, because I haven’t been to the Rio Olympics. I felt like everyone kept asking me questions about the Olympics. from Tokyo I guess every year from that point on.
“So I’m very sad about what I did there, but also a little happy that I didn’t lose in the first round, because I haven’t played for a minute. Even the circumstances under which it happened. unfolded, I was really happy to be able to go through it all. And lighting the torch and stuff like that, it was fun for me. I really think it will be like a really big memory for me.
“I definitely feel [lighting the torch is] a time when I will be the most proud of myself. I think my ojiisan was probably screaming on his TV when it happened. It was definitely surreal. I had to do a rehearsal the day before, but it was very secret. I had no idea I was the first tennis player to carry the torch, but it is definitely something I will remember in my heart. “
To find out if she spoke to USA Gymnastics star Simone Biles, who pulled out of a number of events at the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health issues.
“I sent her a message, but I also want to give her some space because I know how upsetting it can be.”
On what journalists can do to improve the press conference experience for athletes after losses and tough times.
“I’m pretty open when it comes to press conferences. I feel like I’ve been like this my whole life. There are times when I would say there are people I don’t know. not very well who ask me really, really sensitive questions, and then especially after a loss [it] kind of amplifies a bit. So I would even say repetitive questions, like questions that have been asked of us before, but maybe you weren’t there at the previous press conference just like maybe reading the transcripts.
“I’m not a press conference pro or anything, but, yeah, just to make it a little more user-friendly, I would say.”