Martina Navratilova feels forces outside tennis are affecting Naomi Osaka, wants her to step back a little bit

Martina Navratilova [right] feels Naomi Osaka is distracted from tennis
Martina Navratilova [right] feels Naomi Osaka is distracted from tennis

Martina Navratilova believes Naomi Osaka's downturn in form can be attributed to the amount of non-tennis endeavors the four-time Major champion is involved with.

Osaka has not won a Major since lifting the 2021 Australian Open, and in fact, has not progressed beyond the third round in the five Slams she has featured in since. However, there is a case to be made that Osaka has been unfortunate with injuries recently. She has suffered a spate of physical setbacks this year, forcing her to sit out of Wimbledon, amongst numerous other tournaments.

The 25-year-old only played 23 matches on tour this year, winning 14 of them, and Navratilova believes she needs to spend more time competing on tour.

"She’s (Naomi Osaka) a very unique case, in every way. So maybe you need to deal with it uniquely. Maybe she doesn’t have to play all those matches, but she certainly has to play more than she has played," Navratilova said in an interview with WTA.

The 18-time Major champion believes Osaka is likely distracted by non-tennis activities, and that seems to be reflected in her results.

"With her, it seems to be the forces outside tennis are affecting her more than anything else. It’s baked in. How she’s set up her life with all those outside interests and influences and demands on her time greater than anybody else," she added.

Navratilova advised the Japanese, who invested in NFTs and in pickleball this year, to go easy on her non-tennis commitments to give herself some breathing room.

"If her priority is tennis, then step back a little bit. You don’t have to do it all. It has to suck your energy away from tennis. I’m all for broadening your horizons -- I was never a one-trick pony -- but tennis came first. It doesn’t mean training harder, necessarily, but maybe sometimes doing nothing at all. Put your feet up or go to the beach," she stated.

Naomi Osaka finished the year as the world's highest-paid female athlete

Naomi Osaka at the 2022 US Open
Naomi Osaka at the 2022 US Open

Naomi Osaka pocketed a whopping $51.1 million in 2022, making her the highest-paid female athlete of the year for the third time in a row. She earned almost $10 million more than second-placed Serena Williams.

However, most of the Japanese's income came from her non-tennis commitments, given she only played 23 matches this year and did not win any titles. Her on-court winnings contributed to a mere $1.1 million out of the $51.1 million for Osaka.

The 25-year-old has multi-million dollar endorsements and sponsorship deals with some of the biggest brands worldwide, including Nike, Yonex, Louis Vuitton, Levi's, Tag Heuer.

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Edited by Arshit Garg
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