STARNBERG, March 3, 2022 (Guest post)
The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo were a whirlwind—even for viewers stuck at home. As Olympic athletes gathered for the postponed Summer Games, fans made sure to tune in to their favorite events and take advantage of various offers available from sportsbooks covering the tournament.
As usual, tennis was one of the biggest events on sports fans’ dockets—and Naomi Osaka was a name to watch. Though raised in the US, Osaka was born in Japan and represented her country by lighting the Olympic torch before competing.
Ultimately, Osaka bowed out in the third round in a thrilling match against Markéta Vondroušová of the Czech Republic, who went on to take silver in women’s singles. However, one recent Instagram post from Osaka hints that she’s doesn’t regret her performance on the court.
Instead, she wishes she would have appreciated the chance to play in the Olympics in her home country. In late February, she shared with fans that in Tokyo she, “…failed to consistently find the immense joy in that.”
A Long Year for Osaka
This came after a tumultuous year for Osaka, which included a fourth grand slam win at the Australian Open, along with a sudden dropout from the French Open that boiled down to a missed press conference. Osaka shed light on mental health in professional sports, while also endearing herself to many young fans previously uninterested in tennis.
Fast forward to becoming the first female tennis player to ever light an Olympic cauldron, and 2021 was truly a whirlwind. Viewed in this light, it seems unsurprising that Osaka would fail to enjoy the finer things in the Olympic village—after all, athletes spend their blood, sweat, and tears for the chance to compete on a global stage.
Questions for 2022
So far, Osaka’s 2022 season has gotten off to a solid start. Though she bowed out in the third round of the Australian Open to Amanda Anisimova, Osaka plans on beefing up her tournament schedule for an action-packed year, which will include an appearance at Indian Wells.
However, former questions about who would be able to stop Osaka from dominating last year’s grand slam schedule have since quieted. Ranked no. 80 in the world, she still has major hurdles to overcome—particularly those on the clay court.
Looking ahead, Osaka’s key moments in 2022 will be her return to Roland-Garros, where one of last year’s biggest controversies in tennis unsettled her momentum. Some might not even be watching her performance on the court, instead wondering whether she’ll lean into the media requirements posed by the grand slams, which include press conferences.