The day before this interview, the world number 10 – who was at the top of the world ranking for the first time in 2019 – had unusually published a series of introspection tweets which revealed to the world his internal struggle.
“I have finished being shy. It is really a waste of time,” she wrote. “I could have shared so many ideas now, I could have had convos with so many different people. All the things I could have learned but no, I’m here putting my own limiter.”
She says that her inability to express herself sometimes led to decisions that were made.
“There are many times when I see myself in situations where I could have made my contribution, but instead I held my tongue and things kept moving in a way that I didn’t not really appreciated, ”she explains. “I feel like if I asserted myself, I would have had the opportunity to see what would have happened.”
‘I would like to thank Jay Z and Beyoncé’
But a missed opportunity that is played over and over in his mind has nothing to do with tennis. It involves his biggest idols, Jay Z and Beyoncé.
During an off-season break in 2019, she met the couple of superstars while on vacation on the Caribbean islands of the Turks and Caicos, but could barely say a sentence.
“He started talking to me, but I got very nervous and started to answer in one word so he suddenly said,” Are you shy? “and I said,” Yeah, “and the convo came to a stop.”
It is a deeply human admission of a world sports star who, in the end, is like the rest of us when it comes to feeling hit by a star. The difference is that she will likely meet them again and, by then, the tennis star knows what she would like to say.
“I want to take this opportunity to tell people that I appreciate them as much as I can,” she says.
“I would like to thank Jay Z and Beyoncé for making music that motivates me, because there was a period in my life when I was just watching Beyonce’s performances to motivate me.
“Even now I’m listening to older songs from Jay Z because I feel like they’re really cold.”
“Now we are speaking in full sentences!”
Despite all his inhibitions and self-censorship, Osaka also knows how far it is. With a half smile, she remembers a moment at the start of her career where even entering the tournament locker rooms was a breathtaking challenge.
“I was very shy and didn’t know what to do or where to put my stuff,” she says.
“Even right now, maybe a few years ago, I would be very, very shy to do this interview and you would only get two words from me, but now we are getting full sentences!”
But without a tennis court, a hitting partner or the possibility of practice, Osaka accepted the situation for what it has become: as close as possible to “normal life”.
“To me it’s a bit worrisome, but I know the other players are probably in the same position as me,” she said.
“It’s not like I forget how to play tennis and I also don’t want to train five hours a day right now because that’s how you get exhausted and you don’t never know when the tournaments will start again. ”
But she already knows that when it happens – she will be different.
“I will feel more gratitude because you never know when something like this will happen again and I miss tennis a lot,” she said.
The weather is transient and Osaka is trying to make every day count.
“I feel like I want to take this time to learn something new or to improve myself, because I am almost sure that I will not have as much free time,” she said.