Naomi Osaka has just announced that she’s taking a break from playing tennis for a while.
On Friday, September 4, the 23-year-old Japanese tennis player ended her run at the 2021 U.S. Open with a loss against 18-year-old Canadian player Leylah Fernandez. During a post-match interview, Osaka apologized for slamming her racquet during the match. “I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point,” she told reporters, per People. “Normally, I like challenges. But recently, I feel very anxious when things don’t go my way.”
Osaka reportedly became visibly emotional while discussing her future in the sport. “I guess we’re all dealing with some stuff, but I know that I’m dealing with some stuff,” she said. “I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal.”
Though the moderator closed off questions, People reports that Osaka decided to continue her thought, saying, “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.”
She continued, through tears, “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”
Following a particularly difficult, yet often empowering year for Naomi Osaka, the athlete took to Instagram to reflect on her journey in late August. “Recently I’ve been asking myself why do I feel the way I do and I realized one of the reasons is because internally I think I’m never good enough,” she wrote. “I’ve never told myself that I’ve done a good job, but I do know I constantly tell myself that I suck or I could do better.”
Ultimately, Osaka wrote that she was going to work on celebrating her accomplishments more. “Your life is your own and you shouldn’t value yourself on other people’s standards,” she wrote. “I know I give my heart to everything I can and if that’s not good enough for some then my apologies but I can’t burden myself with those expectations anymore. Seeing everything that’s going on in the world I feel like if I wake up in the morning that’s a win. That’s how I’m coming.”