Tennis-Osaka exhorts girls to embrace being 'different'

  • Tennis
  • Thursday, 08 Jul 2021

FILE PHOTO: May 30, 2021; Paris, France; Naomi Osaka (JPN) in action during her match against Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) at Roland Garros Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Japan's Naomi Osaka, a self-confessed introvert who withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon on mental health grounds, has encouraged girls around the world to embrace what make them different.

Osaka, 23, one of Japan's best gold medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics, used her spot in the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) "Stronger Together" campaign to say the definition of an Olympian is broader than sometimes thought.

"People might think I'm quiet. Different. That I don't fit the box of what an Olympian should be," Osaka says at the start of the video released on Thursday. "But I'm proof that the definition is bigger than people think."

The minute-long vignette begins with an overhead shot of Osaka about to serve on a tennis court before jumping to footage of her dancing in Tokyo's central Shibuya district and laughing in front of a mirror with her sister.

The video, which also shows Osaka signing a TV lens after a win and at a tournament representing Japan, depicts girls of all ages playing softball, rugby, tennis, soccer and fencing, plus breakdancing.

"I want to inspire the girls out there watching right now. The ones that some people think are too different. Too quiet. Too something," said Osaka, who has opened up on her anxiety facing media interviews after intense matches.

"And if we don't fit that expectation of what people think we're supposed to be, good. That just means we're the ones who get to change it."

Osaka's video is the third of five athlete narratives in the IOC's digital campaign ahead of the July 23.-Aug. 8 Tokyo Games. It follows ones by retired world-record sprinter Usain Bolt and skateboarding great Tony Hawk.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 0
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In Tennis

Tennis-Tsitsipas thriving after wake-up call, says McEnroe
Tennis-Rybakina to enter top 10 but says career boost won't change her
Tennis-Belarusian Sabalenka crowned first 'neutral' Grand Slam champion
Tennis-Sabalenka overpowers Rybakina for first Grand Slam win at Australian Open
Tennis-Australian Open 2023: order of play on Sunday
Tennis-Djokovic battles Tsitsipas in high stakes Australian Open final
Tennis-Paul aiming higher after Australian Open run ends
Tennis-Grand Slam Board says safeguarding Davis Cup is a priority
Tennis-Djokovic pounds Paul to reach 10th Australian Open final
Tennis-Seeing Russian flags at Australian Open 'hurts', says Ukraine's Kostyuk

Others Also Read