Naomi Osaka takes media duties 'too seriously', says former tennis star

Former Japanese tennis star Kimiko Date has claimed compatriot Naomi Osaka "takes her media obligations too seriously."

Former Japanese tennis star Kimiko Date has claimed compatriot Naomi Osaka "takes her media obligations too seriously."

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, is currently taking a self-imposed break from the tennis court.

She has endured a tumultuous year, which began with victory at the Australian Open, but soon became very tough.

The 24-year-old withdrew from the French Open after sparking a widespread discussion by refusing to participate in media duties. She returned to the court for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, losing in the third round.

Osaka then crashed out of the US Open in the third round, before announcing she would be taking a break from tennis.

In an interview with Number 1 Shimbun, Date, a former world number four, empathised with Osaka.

"Osaka and I have one thing in common," she said. "We rose up the rankings very suddenly and we weren’t really prepared for what it meant.

"Her personality is one that takes everything to heart in a serious way and I think this exacerbates the problems she’s had."

Kimiko Date had a long and successful career

Date continued: "You can deal with the media in many ways; you can say everything to them, or a little bit or nothing. I get the impression Osaka actually takes her media obligations too seriously.

"Maybe she thinks she has to answer all their questions and so feels pressure that way. I really understand her feeling."

The 51-year-old Date won the Japan Open a record four times during her career, also reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

She retired from professional tennis in 1996, but announced an unexpected comeback in 2008. Date triumphed at the Korean Open the next year, becoming the second-oldest player in the Open Era to win a WTA title.

Naomi Osaka has not played tennis since the US Open

After playing for nearly another 10 years, Date retired again in 2017. After a long and successful career, the former star offered some words of advice to Osaka.

"When I was rising in the rankings, it was mainly just the Japanese media and there was no internet then, but everything Osaka does is reported worldwide, so the pressure she feels is so much greater," Date advised.

"I think all the top players are affected by stress that affects their mental health, but they have to find a way to deal with these problems.

"You can’t refuse to attend press conferences just because you lose. You have to find a way to deal with the media."

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