‘Naomi Osaka’ review: A Netflix documentary portrays a young athlete wrestling with the weight of her tennis stardom


“Naomi Osaka” deals with a lot more than simply tennis, however this Netflix docuseries (truly simply a 110-minute documentary sliced into 3 parts) works best as a window into the needs put on young professional athletes, and the pressures – from individual to political to marketing – that go with it. On that level alone it’s a winner, in spite of a couple of faults.

Produced by LeBron James’ business (which is having a huge week with this and “Space Jam”), the job definitely take advantage of timeliness, with Osaka having actually made headings just recently for her stand versus taking part in press conference and choice to withdraw from the French Open, mentioning her psychological health.

That self-questioning appears throughout the documentary, directed by Garrett Bradley (“Time”), which narrates a two-year stretch in Osaka’s chaotic life, from winning the United States Open at age 20 to losing the list below year prior to looking for to recover it in 2020.

Along the method, Osaka – who is of Japanese and Haitian origins – started to discover her voice as an activist, openly deciding in regard to the Black Lives Matter motion. She likewise dealt with the sorrow of Kobe Bryant’s terrible death, after being familiar with the Lakers star as a coach to her.

“Nobody really knows all the sacrifices that you make,” Osaka states throughout the very first installation, including that “no one prepares you” for the level of attention that comes with being thrust into the media spotlight.

Naomi Osaka as seen in the Netflix docuseres.


Naomi Osaka as seen in the Netflix docuseres.

For Osaka, that suggests letting a video camera team tag along (a paradoxical option, in some aspects) as she appears on the “Ellen” program, takes part in image and style shoots and endures a “summit” of business seeking to possibly enter organization with her. That last series highlights the level to which a professional athlete like Osaka becomes her own “brand,” with all the expectations and public-facing pressures associated with that.

It might be simple to dismiss Osaka’s grievances as elite issues, from keeping her then-ranking as the No. 1 gamer on the planet to withstanding concerns from press reporters – a little cost, relatively, for the riches and other advantages associated with fame.

Yet what “Naomi Osaka” shows, rather efficiently, are the tradeoffs associated with that, consisting of the method which Osaka, like lots of prodigies, experienced a far-from-carefree youth that included unknown hours training on the tennis court.

At times listening to Osaka grapple with her doubts and insecurities can be uncomfortable and intrusive, but that’s revealing in its own method. Certainly, it’s possible to covet all that she has and still feel compassion for the sacrifices made in order to have it – which, in regards to the points that “Naomi Osaka” plans to make clear, is basically video game, set and match.

“Naomi Osaka” premieres July 16 on Netflix.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.