Naomi Osaka Exits Wimbledon After Self-Doubt Creeps In: ‘I Didn’t Feel Fully Confident In Myself’

by Gee NY
Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts as she plays Kazakstan's Yulia Putintseva in a women's singles match during day one of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, on July 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Naomi Osaka’s return to Wimbledon was marred by self-doubt, leading to her second-round exit.

The four-time Grand Slam champion lost to American teenager Emma Navarro, 6-4, 6-1, in just 58 minutes, marking her first appearance at Wimbledon since 2019.

“I didn’t feel fully confident in myself. Those doubts started trickling into my game a lot. I don’t know why those thoughts were so prevalent,” Osaka, who has been open about her mental health struggles, told reporters. “I didn’t feel like I was playing that well. Obviously, the second set wasn’t that great.”

Osaka, back on tour after a 15-month maternity break, has struggled to advance past the second round in consecutive tournaments.

She did, however, challenge World No. 1 Iga Swiatek at the French Open last month.

The confidence Osaka gained from her first-round win over Diane Parry quickly faded against Navarro, the tournament’s 19th seed. She was broken in the seventh game of the first set after four errors.

“I do know that my last clay court match was really good,” she said, smiling. “So I might end up liking that surface a lot more than grass now.”

Navarro, a New York native, dominated the match and advanced to the third round.

“Naomi’s obviously a great player, it’s great to have her back,” Navarro said on court. “I obviously wanted to get the win today and played some really good tennis at times. It’s my first time on Centre Court. It doesn’t really seem to be real.”

For Osaka, ranked 113th entering the tournament, it’s the end of the road at Wimbledon this year.

“I’m a little disappointed because I wanted to do really well,” she said. “I feel like I put a lot of time into it. There’s always next year, so…”

Osaka will now turn her attention to her daughter Shai, who turns 1 this week, and the upcoming Paris Olympics, where she will compete for Japan.

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