Look good, feel good, play good, right? That should certainly be Naomi Osaka’s motto as she makes her comeback into the professional realm of tennis once again.
After announcing that she was going to take a break from the world of professional tennis on her Instagram in May of 2021, Naomi Osaka was labeled weak, and a quitter. But now, after having made an incredible run in the Australian Open this year, fans can tell she is back and better than ever.
After the 2018 U.S Open (her first championship win), Osaka said that she had been battling with depression. For any professional athlete, being on the big stage is a hard task and mental health issues are a reality.
Osaka continued to play for 3 more years before calling it quits, despite all of the troubles she was facing everyday that her fans had no idea about. Perhaps the time off was exactly what she needed in order to make her way back onto the court. She is currently playing some of her best tennis, emphasizing the effect that a mental health break can have on professional athletes around the world.
Last year, the 24 year old tennis star had a cute encounter with a butterfly on the court. The critter flew around her racket many times and eventually landed on her face, making for an outstanding picture, and possibly giving her the luck she needed to pull out her most recent Grand Slam win. While many people didn’t know it, this occurred when she was possibly at her lowest point mentally in her career, yet somehow she made it out with a shining trophy. The butterfly had more effects on her than we could have ever imagined. A few short months after this incident, Osaka wrote to Instagram to declare her break from the game.
Now, as she has made her return to the courts in Melbourne, Australia – a place where she has won 2 of her 4 career Grand Slam titles, she is brining a little bit of some extra luck with her. As she couldn’t ensure that a butterfly would once land on her again in the middle of a match at the Open, she went the alternate route and laced up some custom Nike butterfly sneakers instead, showing them on Instagram. Maybe the fluttering wings on the side of her shoes gave her an extra lift as she pushed through to win her first match of the tournament 6-3, 6-3 against Camila Osorio.
When you look good, you feel good, and in turn, you play good. Naomi Osaka has struggled in the past few years with finding the confidence she once had on the court during her amateur years. She has become an advocate for mental health and how important it is for athletes to speak up about their problems and take breaks when needed. Personally, I find her quite admirable for all of the strides she has taken as a person and player in the spot light. As she makes her way back onto the court as a veteran player who has many championships under her belt, I hope that as her fans, we get to see her confidence shine and see her play at her happiest once again.
The butterfly effect has certainly proved one thing: Naomi Osaka is back and better than ever.