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Naomi Osaka took a huge step by returning to tennis after shutting down her season early in 2021, which was a trying series of episodes for her on the personal front: the four-time Grand Slam champion suffered from mental health issues and struggled to find joy while playing under the white-hot media spotlight last season, and during the off-season it wasn't exactly clear when and if she'd be returning to the court.

Tennis Express

This year at the Australian Open, things were different. Not only was Naomi’s tennis back – so was her joy and love for the sport. Clearly she has accomplished a productive bit of soul-searching over the last few months, and her journey of self-discovery appears to be keeping her in good spirits.

Despite a disappointing loss to Amanda Anisimova on Friday, the four-time major champ says she is immensely proud of her achievement.

“I fought for every point,” she said. “I can't be sad about that. You know, like I'm not God. I can't win every match, you know. So I just have to, like, take that into account and know that it would be nice to win the tournament, but that's, like, really special, you know, and I can't, like, think of myself to try to win the Grand Slam at the start of the year every time.”

At 24 years old, Osaka is still growing, and for now, she’s enjoying that process.

“For me, I feel like I grew a lot in this match,” she said. “The last match that I played in New York I think I had a completely different attitude, so I'm really happy with – you know, of course I lost, but I'm happy with how it went.”

Osaka says her goals are simple in 2022. Have a great attitude and everything else will take care of itself.

“I just want to go into this year, like, knowing that I'll play the whole year and I'll just have, like, the greatest attitude ever,” she said. “You know, like I'll fight for every point. Even if I win or lose, I'll just go off the court knowing that I tried the hardest that I could, and there is no way that anyone can expect anything more from me, because they saw, like, how hard I fought.

“So of course that's the goal, and I think if I keep that mentality, I'll be able to win more matches, of course. There is going to be moments like this where I'm disappointed, but I feel like the losses is what I learn the most from.”

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