All-star tennis player and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka made headlines in 2021 for withdrawing from the French Open in order to protect her mental health. The decision came after she was fined $15,000 for declining to participate in post-match press conferences.
"The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that," she explained on Instagram. "...here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences."
The news of her exit came as a shock to fans and sports journalists alike, as Osaka, then 23, was the world’s highest-paid female athlete and a must-watch player on the court. But it also came as an inspiration, at least to many. Since then, the star athlete, who recently gave birth to her first child, has continued to be an outspoken role model in the world of tennis.
Here, a look at some of Osaka's best quotes about her personal life, tennis, and her triumphs and challenges.
Related: The Most Inspirational Quotes
30 Naomi Osaka quotes
1. "It really does feel like a dream to think of my own child in the stands watching me, and I’m so excited that I’ve got that coming in the not-so-distant future."
2. "I don't think there's a perfectly correct path to take in life but I always felt that if you move forward with good intentions, you'll find your way eventually."
3. "I always think that my way of doing things, I want to make life a bit easier for the people that come behind me."
4. "Others may not have all the answers but speaking to people who are dealing with similar issues can help you feel less alone and is also a good way to pick up some tricks and tools that may also work for you."
5. "Meditation has been extremely helpful for my anxiety. At first, it was intimidating, but when I started to practice meditating every morning, even just for five minutes, it became something I really looked forward to."
6. "Speaking up and being really honest with everyone has allowed me such freedom and a sense of relief, and the outpouring from others about their own struggles made me feel less alone."
7. "I think all of us athletes can relate to feeling pressure, not only from the outside world, but the pressure we also place on ourselves. As an athlete, strength is key to how you are perceived, so for me admitting I wasn't always okay was a big step."
8. "The Williams sisters were such trailblazers and tackled so many issues head on. As a Black female athlete, I credit them for breaking down barriers for me."
9. "It's easy to lose sight of how far you've come, but I've been prioritizing trying to live in the moment and enjoy the journey."
10. "Obviously, I want to win, but I want to make sure that I am enjoying myself along the way. I play my best tennis when I am enjoying it."
11. "I think, for me, I just really want to have fun with every match that I play because tennis is a game."
12. "In a perfect dream, things would be set exactly the way you would want them. But I think it’s more interesting that in real life, things aren’t exactly the way you planned."
13. "I think as high-level athletes, we are accustomed to being trained to win at all costs, but actually there are more important things in life, and it doesn’t define who we are as people."
14. "As a kid growing up, I never really talked; I was the quiet one. I was the one that wanted to just skate by unnoticed and conflict-free. But the beauty of growing up is learning and seeing things for yourself... As I grow I will learn more things, but at the moment I can only hope I’m using my platform well."
15. "I feel like this is really my strength: being unique and also having diverse life experiences which have made me more tolerant, accepting and curious."
16. "I can feel myself having different characteristics from each parent, which directly reflect the nationalities. I am quite soft-spoken, which is definitely from my Japanese side, but I think my fierce competitiveness comes from my Haitian side."
17. "Fashion is about taking chances, and what I love most about it is that there is never a right or wrong—it’s more about expression and art."
18. "When I was younger, it didn’t really matter if I won or lost. I mean, it mattered to me, of course, but it wouldn’t make the newspaper."
19. "I feel like people think that I'm kind of poker-faced, but inside is definitely a rollercoaster for me."
20. "Tennis is a solo sport, you cannot rely on a teammate when you’re having an off day. It’s about trusting yourself and the work you put in prior to the match."
21. "You may lose more than you win, be told ‘no’ more than ‘yes’ but if you stay the path, and put in the work you can be the best version of [yourself]."
22. "Having so many eyeballs on you, each with an opinion about who they think you are without knowing you first. I try to surround myself with people that know me best. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is your own and [that of] the people close to you."
23. "What people don’t know is that I’m actually super goofy and funny, but I only speak when I know it matters, if some people want to mistake that as ‘shy,' I’m fine with that, but I’m really just thoughtful with my words and actions."
24. "Success for me is not just on the court—I want to be a good person and a voice for progress and change. I’m always hard on myself when I don’t live up to the expectations I hold myself to. Sometimes you learn more in defeat than in victory."
25. "I feel really proud whenever female basketball players or female soccer players do anything. We’re all watching each other and, in a way, protecting each other."
26. "I don’t think that I’ve ever encountered a situation where I felt like I couldn’t do anything because I was a female."
27. "Use your voice and don’t be afraid to stand up for what matters to you. I know it is easier said than done, but don’t shy away from it."
28. "One piece of advice I will always keep sacred and with me was from Kobe. He was a mentor and close friend and he helped me get through some of the toughest parts of my life as an athlete. I remember telling him I wanted to be like him, and his response was ‘No, be better.’ I will never forget that."
29. "My mum sacrificed a lot. We would go to tournaments and she would stay at home and work because someone had to pay for the flights and stuff. I’m very grateful for everything she’s done and I can only hope that what I’m doing now can repay her in some way."
30. "I can’t look at someone and say ‘I feel like you,' because I’m, like, half of everything. It’s like if you dump stuff into a bowl and mix it around. That’s me. I’m a little bit of everything, so I can relate to a lot of different people."