Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka has said the pandemic, while playing havoc with tennis events, gave her enough reasons to take her mind off the game for a spell and dabble in her other interests.
The three-time Grand Slam winner was into her training block in California in March last year when the pandemic broke.
“Never had a break like this before”: Naomi Osaka
As the months rolled, the situation globally turned more and more grave and, before long, it started to have a trickle-down effect on tennis.
Bulk events on the men’s and women’s Tours, including the big-ticket Indian Wells Masters, were cancelled as tournament organizers and the governing bodies struggled with the fallout of the pandemic.
However, Osaka said she took the Covid-induced break as a positive as it helped her break the clutter in her mind and unwind.
“I’d never had a break like this before in my life. So I just tried to clear my mind,” said the reigning US Open women’s singles champion.
Osaka finished 2020 WTA season ranked No. 3
Despite being off tennis for a large part of the year due to event cancellations and concerns around the pandemic, Osaka finished the 2020 WTA season at number 3, with 5780 ranking points in her kitty.
However, in terms of earnings from prize money and endorsements, Osaka was by far and away the highest-paid tennis star in the women’s circuit.
In fact, according to Forbes magazine, between June 2019 and June 2020, Osaka’s earnings from prize money and endorsements were a whopping $37.4 million, the highest for a female athlete.
Osaka’s brush with Slam glory at US Open
Her only moment of glory in the Grand Slams came in the US Open this year as she won the women’s championship to clinch her third Major title.
She made the third round of the Australian Open where she lost in straight sets to rising American teen Coco Gauff.
Osaka pulled out of the French Open this year, citing a hamstring injury. He shared a statement on social media saying that her injury hadn’t healed enough for her to be ready for the clay court event.