Naomi Osaka Documentary Debuts on Netflix

Sophia Li, Staff Writer

Netflix launched a documentary series titled Naomi Osaka featuring four-time tennis grand slam champion Naomi Osaka on July 16, 2021. As a 23-year-old professional tennis player, Osaka opened up about struggles in the docuseries and speaks on challenges she faced growing up.

Osaka is a well-known athlete in the sports world, and Netflix hopes to showcase her “multifaceted identity as a tennis champ and a rising leader.” Born to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Osaka has struggled growing up for the majority of her life in the United States finding her identity. According to the docuseries, growing up, many people told Osaka’s father that she would never become anything. They were wrong. 

In one of the biggest tennis tournaments each year at the U.S. Open, Osaka faced off tennis legend Serena Williams in the finals of the match. Williams made blunders and Osaka took the set and became the first Japanese player to win a championship match. Being only 21-years-old at the time, the pressure and the fame that came with winning were overwhelming to her. 

Just recently, Osaka pulled out of the French Open, citing mental health issues. She refused to attend the post-match interviews since reporters can add stress and doubt into a player’s mind. After being fined $15,000 for this incident, Osaka seems to have been off her A-game ever since. She has been worrying about what others think of her, how they perceive her, and just about everything. 

Due to everything going on, Osaka felt like she needed to take time for herself, and by releasing a documentary with Netflix, hopes to express where she is coming from. The docuseries contains three parts, each channeling a different aspect of Osaka’s life. 

The first episode is titled “Rise”. With Osaka rising to the occasion at the 2019 U.S. Open, the fame and popularity rose as well. Becoming a rising star isn’t easy, and the video of about 38 minutes expresses that perfectly. 

“Champion Mentality” is the episode that follows. This title refers to Kobe Bryant and a spin on his Mamba Mentality. Mr. Bryant was a close friend and mentor to Osaka for years, and after his unexpected death in a plane crash, Osaka has been thinking about him ever since. She wonders if she is living up to his legacy, and never wants to let him down. Osaka states that she has a weak mentality, as she has been struggling with her mental well-being for years after her major win. 

The last episode that aired was called “New Blueprint”. As Osaka continued to explore her roots and heritage, she was also not afraid to speak up for what’s right. According to, “After George Floyd’s murder, [Osaka] join[ed] a protest for the first time in Minnesota.” Osaka stood up for what was right many times, even wearing seven masks to honor police brutality victims. She will not let rules stop her from using her voice to stand up for justice.

“I’m very excited to see the Naomi Osaka documentary because she is so inspiring, and I would like to see more about how she grew up and trained to become such a well-known tennis player,” said AHS sophomore and Varsity tennis player Madelyn Khun. “Osaka is very humble because despite all the constant media attention, she is still able to find other ways to cope and deal with it. She is such an inspiration to many because of her perseverance and how she pushes through no matter what.”

From tennis to speaking up about racial justice, Osaka is already an accomplished 23-year-old rising star. Through her Netflix docuseries titled after her, fans have been able to understand her better and get a closer look at who she is and what she does. 


Photo courtesy of Rob Prange