Naomi Osaka dropped in on a Court 7 crowd for the first time in Paris during the third round of the French Open this year and promised she was “really sorry” for pulling out before the event.
Asked about her backstage encounter with the then-20-year-old during a Sunday phone interview with The Associated Press, Osaka said she left the French Open finals because her right foot “swelled up super bad.” She added: “I really wish I wouldn’t have done that, but I feel like the way I felt physically at that time was the way I knew I would feel the rest of the time until I was strong enough to play on a big court.”
She played at the Women’s Tennis Association finals in London on the same day and says her foot swelled even worse.
Osaka, now 22, explained that at that time, “I didn’t have any success with other medical treatments, so I just knew there was not a lot I could do.”
Osaka said that “I just had a lot of time to think about, ‘You know, there’s things I did wrong this year.’ “
She announced in July that she will retire after the U.S. Open.
But that would only take her to 2019.
“If I’m going to continue playing, I’ve got to make it my goal to play for the next couple of years after this,” she said.
When asked about comments by Caroline Wozniacki last month that she was “worried” about the women, Osaka said: “If I feel any kind of doubts, I’m not going to compete anymore. But I’ve grown up so much, I haven’t paid any attention to what other people say. I don’t really care what they say.”
She credits her game “completely to the time I’ve spent with Monica [Seles] and to me and my mom and my dad.”
Monica Seles and No. 1 Serena Williams started a relationship while she was a teenager, and Seles’s father said in 2008 that “I’ve already started my work of hanging out with Monica and teaching my daughter tennis, like trying to teach her how to fight.”
Osaka says that “I learned to win my first Grand Slam without Serena in 2012, so … yeah, it’s okay.”