Naomi Osaka has often made headlines for standing her ground. Earlier this year, she not only announced that she would not partake in the mandatory press conferences but also withdrew from the French Open, and thereby started a conversation around mental health. This three part docu-series by Netflix shows us how she went from being a sweet and shy sportsperson to a woman who is actively trying to find her voice.
We are transported to her childhood, hear from everyone that is dear to her, watch her win the Grand Slam in New York in 2018 against Serena Williams and then follow her journey through the various ups and downs that follow. The docu-series captures the journey of a soft-spoken athlete, her vulnerabilities and her fears along with her search for a higher purpose, hence making it clear that this is just the beginning for this influential youngster.
Produced by LeBron James and Mav Carter’s Uninterrupted and Film 45, director Garrett Bradley takes us on Naomi’s journey of self-discovery and self-love. While she may be a tennis star, she is constantly trying to reinvent her identity by not only dabbling into creative ventures like fashion designing but also publicly standing up for issues like the Black Lives Matter movement. Bradley does a powerful job of capturing the essence of an introverted athlete who may have risen to stardom overnight but did not let the success and the risks that come with it dictate her life outside the court, or even inside it.
The docu-series helps us understand who Naomi is when she’s on court, and who she is outside of those boundaries. We get a glimpse into how difficult it may be for someone to constantly be in the limelight and face criticism of all sorts. From choosing to represent Japan in the Olympics to marching at the Black Lives Matter protests, it is evident how she tries to do justice to both of her heritages as half-Haitian and half-Japanese.
With a lot of footage coming from news reporting agencies, social media, personal videos and childhood home videos, the series does not always have the best technical quality but the content more than makes up for it.
Watching an athlete’s journey along with their wins and losses, can be an incredibly special and inspiring opportunity. Through this documentary, we study Naomi Osaka’s perseverance, dedication and the mindset with which she approaches her games, wins, losses & her life, realising that it is all a part of a larger whole.
The documentary series Naomi Osaka is now streaming on Netflix.