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.


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.)


“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?”


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.”


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.”


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.”