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January 5, 2020

Naomi Osaka

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. How has your off-season been? How do you feel? Do you feel refreshed, ready to go?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, yeah, I mean, for me I'm really happy. Yeah. I don't know. I do feel really refreshed. And Australia, for me, is like one of the funnest parts of tour and I always play well, so I'm really excited to be here. Super happy to see you guys again, yeah.

Q. Last year you ended with a shoulder injury, so I was wondering how you managed your off-season, how much was the shoulder injury affecting you, how much time did that take away from practice?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I didn't play for most of November, which was a first for me. I've never really taken that long of a break before. But I think it was really necessary because my shoulder was kind of worn down. But after that I just did rehab and slowly started playing again and I think that that worked out really well because I don't feel anything in my shoulder, and I like to think that I'm playing well right now. I guess I'll find that out after I play my match.

Q. In terms of the off-season, how different of an off-season did this feel like for you and what was the key? Why do you think you feel so refreshed starting the year?
NAOMI OSAKA: Let's see, I took my first vacation ever.

Q. I noticed.
NAOMI OSAKA: I went to Turks. It was really fun. My sister was there. She made me paddle board, and then the current took us and I almost died, but that's another story. I don't know. I just feel like I'm experiencing so many things in my life and everything's really fun and I'm trying to take it all into, like, perspective that these are things that I've never thought I was going to be able to do. And I don't know, I, like, added more people to my team and they're really nice, so.

Q. In terms of that, thank you for the segue.
NAOMI OSAKA: You're welcome.

Q. Wim Fissette. Can you talk about the decision to bring him on and how different of a voice, if at all, has he been so far in the pre-season?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, we call him Fissette. Yeah, Fissette is really nice. He seems very like, I don't know, I don't know to you to really describe it, but I respect all the things that he says. And I know that he's worked with a lot of top players and I feel like I'm learning from everything that he says, and I don't know, I try to apply it. So it's kind of tough because this is the first tournament and in a way, I expect a lot because I want to pick up from where I left off, minus the injury part. And I know that he wants to do really well too, so there's that factor. But also at the same time, I don't know, I don't want to like put coach pressure on him, so, yeah.

Q. What are your first impressions, just with the ATP Cup going on at the same time, overlap is it. Is it a bit of a strange one? Some girls will be playing out in the outer courts at the Pat Rafter at the start while the ATP Cup's still going.
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, I don't think too much on it. I think I'm playing my first match on the outside court, but I don't know. Like I've always said, I can play on court 26. I don't care where I play. I just want the people that want to watch me play, I, like, want them to be able to come. But I don't think I would be selling out seats like that, so we're all good there. Yeah, if it's an atmosphere thing, I kind of understand it. But for me it just feels like a men's tournament and a women's tournament, so it's pretty much the same thing.

Q. I'm curious, with Wim again, what you were looking for in a coach when you were looking for a coach again, and what he did to meet those requirements or whatever you're after at this stage of your career.
NAOMI OSAKA: What was I looking for? Someone that's like calm and knowledgeable and can kind of work with the team dynamic, because my trainer, my physio, I've had them for like more than two years and they're more, they're like my family at this point. So just I felt like anyone that I brought in now should be able to work well with them.

Q. Going back to your near death experience on the paddle board, what happened with that? Were you stuck out at sea or anything crazy like that?
NAOMI OSAKA: Listen, in the, if you're scared, everything becomes more exaggerated. So I'm going to tell you my story. She might say I'm lying, but this is what happened to me personally.

We went paddle boarding. I've never gone paddle boarding. I don't like the ocean like that. I like to be able to see what's about to happen to me. So we went paddle boarding next to the house. That was all fine. It was beautiful. It was a beautiful day. I saw starfish. And suddenly we hit a current and I'm freaking out a little bit, because the house is getting further. Unless my eyes are playing tricks on me, it's getting far as heck, and then she was all like, Oh, just let the current take you out and we can just go around it later. And I'm like, how far out are you trying to take us, because it's black, like, the water is black now, and the house is like a tiny dot, and I can't really swim that well. And then I fall in the water, so now I'm like thinking about all the sharks in the Caribbean and I was like screaming at her, like, If you, if I die, this is on you. You're going to have to tell mom how I died in the Turks and Caicos (laughing). Yeah, so I'm like crying, and then I get back on the board and then she decides that she wants to say that she sees a shark. So now I'm like screaming and crying, and I was fine, though, because I'm here. But in that moment I just really thought, like, I don't want to die like that. Yeah, that's the end of the story.

Q. So two questions: Do you know in reality how far you were off the shore? Was it a hundred meters?
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm not lying.

Q. And did you learn anything from that kind of experience, being out of your depth a little bit maybe?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know, like, distance. I want to say, like, one New York block, maybe two. I'm short, so... listen, that thing was scary. Okay, wait, and then also the second, what did I learn? I learned that you can't trust your siblings. No matter how much they say that they will protect you, they will never be able to protect you. You got to protect yourself. Because it's a cold world out there. It's a cold world out there.

Q. I guess, were you thinking about Moana or anything when you were going out there? What inspired you guys to go out beyond the what you were comfortable with?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, she said that she wanted to see more of the island. And not -- because we were paddling back and forth. I was having a good time. Apparently she wasn't, so...

Q. And then secondly, you've really upped your social media, like, selfie fashion account lately.
NAOMI OSAKA: You're funny.

Q. It's true.
NAOMI OSAKA: What's your Instagram handle?

Q. It's just my name, Ben Rothenberg.
NAOMI OSAKA: Ben Rothenberg. Okay.

Q. If you want to follow it, it's nowhere near --
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm going to stalk you before I make my decision.

Q. You're going to decide no. But it's, I'm just curious what has it been like sort of stepping up that level of with the drip? I don't even know what the word for it is.
NAOMI OSAKA: Don't ever say that.

Q. That's right, right? That's right. I got that right?
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, no, that hurt my soul pretty good. It's fine though. I don't know. Actually, it's really weird because people have been telling me, like, they really like my fashion sense, which is, honestly, I'm very sorry, but that's way of a compliment than when people tell me they like my tennis. So that's been happening a lot recently. And I don't know, I just really like, like, pretty pictures. That's why I've been deleting a lot of my pictures on Instagram, just in case anyone's like, what the hell's going on? It's because I like things to look aesthetically pleasing, and so my entire feed is, like, beautifully collaged together.

Q. That's a lot of work.
NAOMI OSAKA: You know, wait, sorry. I just wanted to see your shoes.

Q. They're New Balances. I got them on Ebay.
NAOMI OSAKA: We support Nike in this household, Ben. I'm sorry. He's really terrible at throwing stuff.

Q. Just on tennis, sorry to be boring, but first round match against Maria Sakkari. You've played a few times and it's a tough opponent and it's a tough draw across the board, for anybody really, but how much, what does it mean to have to play her for your first match of the season?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I didn't find out -- well, the draw did come out yesterday. But I found out a couple hours ago that I was playing her, and I think the last time I played her was in Cincy, like, two years ago, and I learned a lot from that match. And I think that whenever I play her, even though it hasn't really been recent, but whenever I play her I just know that she's a really good fighter and she brings a lot of energy onto the court, so I think just for that to be my first round match here is going to be really fun regardless of the outcome. Yeah, I know both of us are going to fight as hard as we can. And I think that despite it being very difficult this is actually a really good draw for me because it tests like my ability to, of endurance and also my ability of like figuring things out.

Q. One quick question on Caroline Wozniacki. She's going to retire after the Australian Open. She's a tough player for young players to come up and play against and beat, especially power players, so I'm just kind of curious what your thoughts are on her career and what she was like for you to play against as a competitor.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean for me her career is incredible, she's been here for what it feels like forever, I remember watching her play in Key Biscayne back when it was the Sony Ericsson and I was like this little kid watching her play in the big stadium and it feels kind of crazy that I played her more than once now. Yeah, I mean, as a person she was sort of the first one that gave me a chance, like she like gave me her number and texted me to come hit with her and I was like, oh my God, wow, I get to hit with this really top player, so she just is super nice, yeah, I don't know, feels kind of weird that she's retiring, but I mean she seems really happy with like her husband and stuff, so I wish that she has all the happiness.

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