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August 21, 2020

Naomi Osaka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Naomi Osaka.

Q. Your tennis timeline during these five, six months off the tour, what was your motivation like in terms of not wanting to train, being able to train, coming back, everything else you were up to during this time? What was the tennis time commitment level throughout this, if you could track it over this stretch?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, immediately after Indian Wells I think was when everything started shutting down. No one knew, like, when the next tournament would be.

But actually I started practicing like around a week or two weeks after Indian Wells got canceled just because I didn't have anything else to do. I don't know. For me, I didn't feel like I lost my tennis or I missed tennis because I was practicing since then.

Then when Wim went back to Belgium after Indian Wells got canceled, and he came back, I don't even know what day it is today, I feel like he came back a month and a half after Indian Wells got canceled, then we started practicing seriously. Yeah, I've been practicing ever since then. I played a couple matches.

For me, I just, I don't know, kept everything kind of low profile because I didn't want to show that I was practicing I guess (laughter). I wasn't really sure what was happening, yeah.

Q. Why didn't you want to show that?

NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know. Everyone was sort of posting videos of themselves working out and stuff. For me, I just felt like it would be interesting. I kind of want people to know me as me, like as a person, not just as a tennis player. It would just be interesting to show other stuff.

Q. You accomplished that in terms of getting people to see you more as a person, what you were doing in Minnesota. Do you feel you've been able give a better sense of who you are to the world at this time?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel so. I feel like I've been able to do a lot in the time I was given because we kind of travel so much normally, we're not able to do the things we want to do sometimes. I feel like I've utilized the time well. I'm happy about that.

Q. You said you feel like you utilized the time very well for yourself. What were you able to delve into that maybe you weren't otherwise?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, most of the things are things that I can't really share yet. I will say, like, one of my biggest things from moving to L.A. was business stuff. I just feel like there's more chances to do things there as opposed to - no offense Florida because I love you and I've been living there for a long time - but no one really wants to take the flight to Boca Raton sometimes.

Yeah, I just feel like I've done a lot that I can't share to you quite yet.

Q. What did you learn about yourself during this period? I'm sure the fact that you had the time to do the things you wanted, perhaps you found out stuff about yourself you didn't know before. Was it eye opening for you in a way, transformational in a way?

NAOMI OSAKA: I'm not very sure because for me, my main thing that I wanted to get out of it was growth. Yeah, for me, I just wanted to grow and not be as shy. I think that was the main thing. I feel like I've had so many opportunities to talk to different people just because I was focused on not being shy, not trying to hide what I wanted to say.

I'm not sure if it's an eye-opening experience, but it definitely did help me out a lot.

Q. With the interviews you did on Instagram, how do you feel you did? Is that something you ever see yourself doing in the future?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I'm not really sure. I feel like I really enjoyed Monfils. He's super great. He's a great dude. And TsiTsi Chan, he was cool, too. I'm not really a conversing type. It was really hard for me to come up with those questions in the first place, so I'm not sure how you guys are able to do it every day.

Yeah, don't worry about your job because I'm not coming for it (laughter).

Q. How does the Naomi that comes out of the break compare to the Naomi that was before the break? Some players have come up with a new serve, some have worked very much on their fitness side. How do you think your tennis is compared to what it was before the break?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I think since you said it, physically I'm very fit right now. I also think mentally I'm just happy to be here. I'm not sure if I was playing for a long time in Europe, then had to come here, I would have that same feeling. I think I'm just grateful to be here. I'm happy that there's a tournament that's going on that I can play.

Yeah, I think that's where I am right now.

Q. You stepped up recently, been eloquent about some important issues. The big story of the week is about the California senator Kamala Harris as the vice presidential candidate. She has an Asian mother and a father from the Caribbean. Does that resonate with you?

NAOMI OSAKA: To be honest, I didn't know that. There were some people, like, tagging me on Twitter, but I didn't open it.

I would say it's a bit weird, the stance I have to take. I'm not supposed to talk about politics, to be honest, because technically I'm not American, per se. I kind of have always been advised not to say anything.

I don't know. It's a bit weird when you're living in the country and you're seeing the things that are going on, and you kind of want to say what you think but you're not supposed to.

Yeah, I would just say everything that's going on is really interesting. I feel like the younger generation is definitely trying to do something about it. It's going to be interesting how it turns out.

Q. A fun post the other day seeing your neighbor in Arthur Ashe with Tsitsipas. Can you describe a little bit more your neighborhood in Arthur Ashe Stadium, who else resides close to you or across from you? A post yesterday on your serve in slow motion, it looked beautiful. How much did you work on your serve and what's changed about your serve during this break?

NAOMI OSAKA: My neighbors would be TsiTsi Chan and Shapovalov is on the other side next to me. The people that I can see, I see Thiem directly in front of me, and Zverev. He usually has his shirt off and is to the far right (smiling).

I feel like everyone kind of comes out at different times. There's probably a bunch of people, but I haven't seen them yet.

For serve, I feel like for me it's one of my biggest weapons. It's something that I really take pride in. In very important points it helps me out a lot. I've just been working on it during quarantine because I feel like something kind of felt off for a while, and I really wasn't sure what it was. Whatever felt weird is gone now.

I feel like Wim would know more specifically what it was. For me, I'm more of a feeling player. I just think that maybe I have to hit a couple more balls than I normally did or something, yeah. So it feels good.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: New fitness coach, yeah. He's someone I learn a lot from every session. He definitely takes pride in form. I don't know, I feel like he's very strict. It's a little bit intense most of the time. But I think that's very Japanese of him because he takes everything very seriously. I feel like I'll learn a lot from him.

I wouldn't say there's anything strange. But I do feel like I'm probably a different person now than I was, like, before everything started. I feel more grateful to be here. I've never had a long break like this before. There's definitely a lot of things that I was able to process and think about. For me, I feel like tennis players, we don't really have that long of a time to play tennis, so that window sort of gave me less opportunities. At the same time I feel like I trained really hard and I'm just really happy to be here, so...

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Naomi.

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