Tennis: Miami Open
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tennis star Naomi Osaka believes her new positive mentality is paying dividends for her game.

The Japanese-born player moved on in the Italian Open Thursday, defeating 20th-ranked Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 6-2. She advances to play 11th-ranked Daria Kasatkina of Russia tomorrow in the third round.

Osaka, who has stepped away from the game on multiple occasions to address mental health concerns, is feeling pretty good about her game and life in general.

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Naomi Osaka’s Strong Mental Health

Returning to the tour after missing all of 2023 due to maternity leave, Osaka explains how her new baby girl has helped put things into perspective.

“I don’t know why, but today I just woke up very peaceful,” she said following her latest win. “I just feel like, no matter what happens on the court, nothing will change for me off the court. Like, my daughter will still love me.”

“I have so many people around me. … I think maybe that showed today,” continued Osaka. “I hope that mentality stays and continues.”

A new baby has the power to change perspectives.

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Her Struggles Have Been Very Public

Naomi Osaka has taken breaks from tennis for her mental health on multiple occasions.

In 2021, she withdrew from the French Open to focus on her mental health.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she said at the time. “More importantly I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.”

It was a highly publicized decision that sparked widespread discussions about the importance of mental health in sports.

Tennis: Miami Open
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Osaka also did not participate in Wimbledon that year and had an on-court meltdown during the US Open. She later announced she would be leaving the sport “for a while”, revealing that winning did not make her happy anymore.

She has spoken about experiencing depression and anxiety since 2018, meaning her mental health has been an ongoing concern throughout a good portion of her career.

Osaka has a 9-8 record in singles competition since returning from maternity leave. Her best showing came in making the quarterfinals of the Qatar Ladies Open in February.

Thus far, she has 7 career titles to her name, including four Grand Slam championships. Will this new mentality lead to even greater success?

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