Naomi Osaka didn't play the entirety of the WTA Finals due to a shoulder injury which meant she hasn't taken to the court professionally since 27 October, 2019. The time off court gave her the opportunity to get her house in order and tick a huge to-do off her list: meeting idol Beyonce. The meeting, Osaka reveals, put her accomplishments into perspective.
"I met Beyonce and Jay Z during the off-season. She just smelled expensive and beautiful and she was soft and she hugged me," Osaka told the WTA, laughing. "I was like, this is what heaven is."
The Japanese player met the artists following her US Open exit in the fourth round to Belinda Bencic.
"She was talking to me and she said she was proud of me. I thought, wow, that actually was a really important moment. I felt really depressed after I lost my match, but I'm thinking about the impact that tennis players — I don't think we know. I don't think we're aware of all the good that we can do.
"That was kind of an eye-opening thing. Even though it was one of my worst points, to lose — I wanted to be a defending champion and I lost early — there's still something really good that came out of that."
Osaka arrives in Brisbane with new coach Wim Fissette having split with Jermaine Jenkins last season and working with her dad for the remainder. Fissette, former coach of Victoria Azarenka, discussed the opportunity with the Belarusian before they mutually ended the partnership. The Belgian has also worked in the past with Kim Clijsters, Sabine Lisicki, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani, Jo Konta, and Angelique Kerber.
For Osaka, the season gets underway in Brisbane against Maria Sakkari. She goes into the first grand slam of the year, the Australian Open starting 20 January, as the defending champion.
She wishes to put the "trial and error" filled 2019 behind her and start afresh. "I just feel like for me having positive energy and having a clean mental slate is really important, so that's what I did this entire off-season. I mean, I trained, but I wasn't super pressed on anything," Osaka said.
"That's just something I had to learn throughout the entire year. I feel like 2019 had so many trials and errors and all in all it felt like a very long year, but now that I'm here it feels very compact," added the two-time grand slam winner.
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Updated Date: Jan 06, 2020 10:58:20 IST