Those on the lookout for definitive solutions about Naomi Osaka and the way she copes with the calls for of her profession and fame shouldn’t anticipate finding them in a brand new Netflix docuseries concerning the four-time Grand Slam champion.
It’s the tennis star’s unresolved questions which can be the guts of “Naomi Osaka,” director-producer Garrett Bradley stated of the collection that was taped over a two-year interval beginning with the 2019 U.S. Open. Production concluded in early 2021 earlier than Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open.
The three-part collection debuting Friday is a contemplative, intimate have a look at a younger athlete discovering her means.
Film of main tournaments, wins and losses, is interwoven with scenes of Osaka’s time with household and her boyfriend, the rapper Cordae; her coaching and enterprise calls for; Osaka’s reflections on her profession, multiracial identification and the loss of life of mentor Kobe Bryant, and her determination to protest police killings of Black women and men.
“It was really important for me to not go into the project with an agenda or really even with an opinion,” Bradley, a 2021 Oscar nominee for the documentary “Time,” stated.
“I really tried to open myself up to her world and where she was at, and tried to understand the sort of essence of who she was.”
As filming progressed, she stated, it turned clear that the collection’ basis could be the conundrums confronted not solely by Osaka however society at giant.
Those inquiries are “connected to value systems and self-definition, and how one can create a more holistic understanding of themselves in any given environment that they find themselves in,” stated Bradley, whose fellow producers embrace LeBron James, below the umbrella of his SpringHill manufacturing firm.
Osaka, 23, who was not made accessible for an interview, withdrew from the French Open final May, citing “huge waves of anxiety” earlier than talking to the media and revealing that she has suffered lengthy bouts of melancholy.
She additionally skipped the just-ended Wimbledon, together with her agent saying she needed private time, however is anticipated to compete within the upcoming Tokyo Olympics for her native Japan. Osaka was only a few years outdated when she, her sister and their Japanese mom and Haitian father moved to the United States.
In a Time journal essay revealed July 8, Osaka wrote that, “Believe it or not, I am naturally introverted and do not court the spotlight. I always try to push myself to speak up for what I believe to be right, but that often comes at a cost of great anxiety.”
“I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s O.K. to not be O.K., and it’s O.K. to talk about it. There are people who can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel,” she stated, thanking Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps and different public figures for offering assist.
The Netflix docuseries consists of footage of Osaka and her sister, Mari, on the court docket as kids, with the tennis star recalling spending at the very least eight hours a day at apply, including, “I was just tired.”
Mari Osaka, 25, additionally performed professional tennis however stated in a social media publish in March that she was retiring from the game as a result of it was “a journey which I didn’t enjoy ultimately.” The docuseries sketches a portrait of Naomi Osaka as considerate and pushed to succeed however struggling to deal with her sport’s calls for and her future.
At one second of self-reflection she says, “So what am I, if not a good tennis player?”
Filmmaker Bradley cautions that the collection shouldn’t be seen as definitive, however relatively a snapshot of a short interval in a life that continues to “evolve and grow.”
“This moment that we captured was her in the process of a learning curve, which I think she directly articulates really beautifully, (that) there are elements of fame that are hard to be prepared for,” Bradley stated.
“The sustenance that she finds is in accepting where she is currently in this moment, and certainly in her family and in her loved ones, but also is in finding her own voice. And that includes choosing when to use it and when not to.”
Asked how she perceived Osaka’s emotional well-being, Bradley stated she considers her “an incredibly strong and really brilliant person.”
“She’s in control of her own narrative, and I think that’s a beautiful thing,” she stated.