September 2, 2020
New York, New York, USA
N. OSAKA/C. Giorgi
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. It's been such a busy week for you. How have you been able to balance your social consciousness with playing, especially during the US Open?
NAOMI OSAKA: So it kind of lagged but I'm just going to answer what I guess your question was (smiling).
I think for me, it's just whenever I step on the court I don't think about anything but the match. Any off-court things, of course it's a great motivation for me to want to do well this tournament, but for the most part I feel like I've been in quarantine and practicing so long that, I don't know, I prefer to play matches. For me, I just think about what I could do to make myself a better player, what I can do to win the match at the time.
Q. A challenging question. You don't have to answer it. My question is, we all know that any unjust action is unacceptable and wretched. Elijah McClain was such a sweet and pure guy. He played his violin for shelter animals. Before his death he told police I'm an introvert, I wouldn't kill a fly. You brought his name to an international audience today. Share some of your feelings about that.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, it's not really a difficult question, so it's okay.
For me, I think when I heard about his story it was very hurtful. I mean, they're all very hurtful, but just the fact of the character and the way that he was, just to hear stories about him, for me it was very sad. I think this was a bit different because no one can really paint the narrative that he was a bad guy because they had so many stories and so many, like, warmhearted things to say about him.
I don't know. I feel like I still don't think his name is very put out there compared to, like, George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. For me, today was very special in the way that I wanted to represent him very well.
Q. There aren't fans at your match, but you do have them on social media, for your game and efforts for racial justice. What does having that mean to your spirit on and off the court?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I think there is a saying that sometimes the people -- I'm just making this up, I'm not sure if it's a saying (laughter).
Basically they're not with me, but I feel their spirit. I know that, you know, of course the matches are being televised, of course there are people that are cheering for me - I hope they're cheering for me - from far away places. I definitely feel the positive energy.
Q. Talk about the match tonight. You said you were excited to play against another player who plays first-strike tennis. When you walked out, we saw the strapping, there was a little bit of worry. It seems like it might be preventative.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I think for me, just playing Camila, I haven't played her in a while, but I know that she goes for things. For me it's really helpful mentally just because I know she's capable of finishing points. It gives me motive to, like, play better, so she's not able to hit winners.
Then the leg tape, I didn't do so well in my last match because -- I don't know. Should I be telling you this (smiling)? Yeah, I guess you could say it's preventative. Yeah, let's just go with that.
Q. Turning around and seeing your mom there trying to connect with you on FaceTime, is that usually how your calls go? Was that a little bit more of a technological glitch that you couldn't connect?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, it was kind of a tech issue because normally I'm able to talk to her quite soundly. It would be kind of bad if all our converses ended up like that.
Definitely it was a technological issue.
Q. Did you figure out what your mother was trying to tell you with all the emojis?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah.
Q. Did you get a clear look at what she was trying to say?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yes.
Q. Can you tell us?
NAOMI OSAKA: So, she was saying, like, there were four lines. Thumbs up fire, which is like good job. There was like a Twitter bird, whatever. She was saying don't go on social media, get some sleep. Then drink a lot of green juice, get some rest. And I love you.
Q. When you are playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium, do you think it can stress you out if there's a lot of players who are watching you or is that something you would enjoy?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, I don't look outside. You know what I mean? I just look in the lines of the court. I'm not really searching around to see who's watching my match. So I don't think it would stress me out at all.
Q. Another question about your mom. Did you know that was going to happen, they were going to try to make that connection with you and her after the match? Was that a surprise? Also wondering where she is now.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, I wasn't expecting it to happen. It was a surprise. Apparently my sister told my mom to do it. But definitely wasn't expecting it. It was a bit odd because I remember I was watching Muchova playing Venus yesterday, and then I saw that she got a call, I don't know if it's a call or a FaceTime, from Rebel Wilson. I was like, Oh, that's kind of cool.
Yeah, definitely wasn't expecting my mom to call today.
Q. Where is she?
NAOMI OSAKA: She's in Florida.
Q. You talked last week about other players looking at you differently now that you're the highest paid female athlete in the world. As you've had this eventful last week or so, do you sense more of a change in perception in terms of people looking at you differently, seeing you as a leader maybe on the tour, whatever it means to be a leader in an individual sport?
NAOMI OSAKA: To be honest, I have no idea because to be completely fair, I rarely see anybody. The only person I see on a regular basis is probably Stefanos because he's sort of like my neighbor.
But, yeah, I feel like -- I don't know. We're all sort of in our separate bubble doing our own things. For me, I don't know, I'm just very focused on the goals that I have right now. I stopped kind of paying attention to everybody, which is probably bad, but...
Q. Stefanos was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt today. Did he get that from you?
NAOMI OSAKA: He didn't get that from me. But I'm super proud of him. I'm very glad that his first response when everything started happening was to ask me questions. I feel like -- I don't know. It's very -- I don't know. For me, I feel like I like to get knowledge. For him to do the same thing, start branching out and asking questions on topics he's not so sure of, is very mature and intelligent. Yeah, super glad he did that.
Q. Do you think you're ready to win this tournament?
NAOMI OSAKA: I stopped thinking about winning. I feel like I put too much pressure on myself. I'm only thinking about putting myself in a good position to win. But I'm taking it match by match.
(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like just watching Murray and Nishioka play, for me it was definitely inspiring in the way they were both fighting so hard. Honestly, Nishioka is one of my favorite players to watch because he's so fast and explosive. I feel like he wears his heart on his sleeve.
Yeah, I think it definitely gave me a lot of motivation because I felt like these great players are playing on Ashe, and I also want to play really good matches, so...
I think my plan, for me, I never want to depend on what the other person's going to do. Even if I play a power player, for me, my goal is to be the dictator. I think that I was able to do that quite well. I think when she was hitting really hard, I was able to neutralize. When I had the chance, I went for the ball that I wanted.
So, yeah, I don't really go into a match thinking like I'm going to count on her making errors for the majority of the point.
I think I also think the same way. I feel like I played really well. For me, my attitude, I was just trying to be very positive. I think I was able to do that well. For me, I think everything starts with my mindset. I think that's going to be the plan going forward.
But, yeah, I definitely played I think the best out of the two weeks that I've been here today.
I did it with my sister. My sister, she draws a lot. We kind of just did that together.
No, no, no. I'm not sure who made some. Probably, like, a mask factory. But, yeah, I just wanted specific names on masks, so that's sort of how that happened.
Yeah, I'm not sure what the percentage on my serve was today, but I do feel like it came through on times that I really needed it. But I also think my second serve was working really well today, too. It was something that I was practicing a lot during quarantine.
I would say for me, since I was playing Camila, and she's known to strike quite fast on the returns, it was really important to do well on my service games. I'm really happy that I was able to get a higher percentage this time.
To be honest, I'm not sure the specific details on the campaign. I know that I did a sort of sit-down talk with a COVID nurse. I'm not sure if that aired yet. For me, I think it's really cool what they're doing. It's a play on words. I think just to show support for all fields, you know, just to spread positivity and light. I think it's definitely a good thing. It's never a negative thing at all.
For me, I honestly don't really know much about my next opponent. I would have to do a lot of research there. All these young players are coming up now (smiling). Yeah, I don't really know too much on her, so...
I mean, for me, I don't know, I feel like the biggest thing I can gain off of international viewers watching is for them to, like, Google the name, research the story, find out exactly what's going on. Racism isn't just an American thing. Like, it's all over the world. It affects people literally every day.
I don't know, I'm just trying to spread the story and spread awareness. I feel like it's helping. I hope it's helping.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports