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10 Quotes From Naomi Osaka’s Netflix Doc That Prove She’s A Winner

This special will make you love her even more.

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In Naomi Osaka: Playing By Her Own Rules, a three-part Netflix docuseries out July 16, Oscar-nominated director Garret Bradley follows the tennis star for two years to capture what makes the 23-year-old wunderkind a champion. Ahead are 10 quotes from the doc that come close.

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On her motivation to pursue tennis, Osaka said, “When I was playing the local tournaments, all I was thinking was, ‘I want my mom to be happy. I want her to stop working.’ She would work overtime. She would sleep in her car. For me, that was my whole point of playing.”

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“So many people have told my dad that I would never be anything. I just started writing a list of all historic things that I could possibly do,” she said of her goals. “Being the first Japanese person to win a Grand Slam was at the top of the list.” (She achieved that in 2018.)

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“Becoming number one, I internalized and made into inside pressure. Now I want to be the best tennis player in the world,” she said of her work ethic and identity. “For so long, I’ve tied winning to my worth as a person. So what am I if I’m not a good tennis player?”

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In 2019 on her birthday, she even asked her mom, Tamaki, “Did you think by the time I was 22 I would have done more? Or do you think this is acceptable? This bothers me sometimes. I know there’s not supposed to be a timeline on this stuff. But I wonder if I’m late.”

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Recalling her iconic Coco Gauff hug, she said, “When I shook her hand, I saw that she was tearing up. I wanted her to have her head high, not walk off the court sad ... to be aware that she’s accomplished so much and she’s still so young. I just want her to take care of herself.”

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Reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s impact, she said, “When I talked to him, I felt so similar to him. ... I’m feeling like I let him down. I’m supposed to carry on his mentality in tennis, and I’m losing matches because I’m mentally weak.”

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Detailing how she once wanted to text Bryant for advice, she revealed, “I didn’t text him that ’cause I didn’t want to feel like a loser, and now I’ll never have the chance to talk to him again.”

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On the backlash for representing Japan in the Olympics, she said, “It was never a secret. Suddenly people are like, ‘Your Black card is revoked.’ African American isn’t the only Black, you know? I feel like people don’t really know the difference between nationality and race.”

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When it comes to Black Lives Matter and withdrawing from the Western & Southern Open tournament in protest of Jacob Blake’s shooting, she said, “It was a bit frightening to speak up. I do feel like it’s been building for a while, and this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

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On fashion and designing a Fall 2020 collection with Japanese label Adeam, she said, “Ever since I was a kid, I liked sketching stuff and trying to put different clothes together ’cause as athletes, we don’t really get to dress up as much. It’s really fun.”

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Speaking about focusing on her own journey, the tennis champion shared, “I’ve been always following people and blueprints of people, and now I feel like I didn’t really find a lane that I liked, and I was at a standstill. And then I found that you have to make your own path.”

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