Naomi Osaka has opened up about her struggle with shyness and said she is now able to conduct interviews in “full sentences” rather than one-word answers.
The tennis season has been halted since early March due to the coronavirus pandemic and Osaka, 22, has used the time to overcome her shyness.
“For me, I have a lot of regrets before I go to sleep, and most of the regret is that I don’t speak out about what I’m thinking,” she told CNN.
“There’s a lot of times where I see myself in situations where I could have put my input in, but instead I’ve held my tongue and things kept moving in a way that I didn’t really enjoy.
“I feel like if I asserted myself I would have gotten the opportunity to see what would have happened.
“Even right now, maybe a couple of years ago I would be very, very shy to do this interview and you would only get like two words out of me but now we’re getting full sentences!”
Osaka added that she was unable to hold a conversation with rap superstar Jay-Z when they met on holiday last year due to her shyness.
She said: “He started talking to me, but I got really nervous and started giving one word replies so he suddenly said, ‘Are you shy?’ and I said, ‘yeah,’ and the convo came to a screeching halt.”
Osaka shot to prominence with two consecutive Grand Slam wins, winning the U.S Open in September 2018 with a straight sets win over Serena Williams, before beating Petra Kvitova to win the Australian Open in last January.
The Japanese star suffered a dip in form after winning the title in Australia and said she went through “the worst months” of her life during that period.
Osaka has slipped down to world No. 10 after saying she struggled with the weight of expectations after becoming world No. 1 last year.
“It’s not like I’ll forget how to play tennis and I also don’t want to train five hours a day right now because that’s how you get burned out and you never know when tournaments will start again,” she added.
“I feel like I want to take this time to learn something new or to improve because I’m pretty sure I won’t have this much free time ever again.”