Match Points: “Osaka could learn a lot from Maria Sharapova about how to have some control of her career”

In the latest episode of Match Points, Marion Bartoli, Carole Bouchard and Simon Cambers discuss Naomi Osaka and how she might learn from some of the greats

September 24, 2021

Naomi Osaka looked a lost soul at the US Open, when, after she lost in the third round to Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, she said she is likely to take a break from the sport.

In the latest edition of Match Points, former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli and journalists Simon Cambers and Carole Bouchard discuss some of the big talking points surrounding Osaka, whose mental health struggles have been one of the biggest headlines of the tennis year.

Naomi Osaka at the 2021 US Open
Naomi Osaka at the 2021 US Open ©

Bouchard: “Say no to a photo shoot if you don’t have a say”

Bouchard says Osaka would be wise to take some advice from Maria Sharapova, to see how she handled fame and fortune on the tennis tour.

“How to be a businesswoman, but to be in charge of what you’re doing, to be in charge of your destiny, in a way, saying no to a photo shoot if you don’t have a say; Maria has really dealt with it in a way like: “I’m not going to be this pretty thing everybody’s doing a photo shoot about and having no say about anything,” Bouchard says. “She’s really dominating what’s happening around her.

“I think Naomi is maybe feeling she’s losing the control over what’s going on around her because she’s not in power. And I really think there’s a lot of things to learn from Maria Sharapova.”

Naomi Osaka at Cincinnati in 2021
Naomi Osaka at Cincinnati in 2021 ©

Bartoli: “She has so much responsibility”

Bartoli says Osaka may be feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility she feels.

“When you represent so much, when you’re, the face of so many brands and very prestigious brands, of course, you feel like every time you’re stepping on the courts, the only thing that’s going to make you happy is to win. And not even happy. As she says, it was more a relief when she is winning because she feels like she’s letting someone down or letting a brand down when she is not winning.

“When she came to the US Open, she had to open those courts that were put down for some kids in Queen’s, where she grew up. She was playing herself. She has so much responsibility.”

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka in press in Cincinnati

Cambers: Osaka should listen to Billie Jean King on the media

Cambers suggested that Osaka should listen to Billie Jean King, when it comes to sorting out her issues with the media.

“She actually feels it’s a privilege sometimes for journalists to talk to her, in a press conference,” he says. “It’s a remarkable sense of entitlement. It seems to me like she’s sort of forgotten that she’s part of a bigger picture. It’s not just about her.

“And her agent is doing not a very good job in keeping her grounded because he’s there saying :
“Well, you know, the media cost her a Grand Slam in terms of playing at Wimbledon.” Not at all. As Billie Jean King said, the important thing for you is you do what you like and you love doing. If you don’t want to play, if you don’t feel ready to play. Don’t play. You have that choice.”

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