Naomi Osaka Bares All in Her Emotional New Docuseries on Netflix

"Before I won the U.S. Open, so many people told my dad I would never be anything,” says Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in her eponymous docuseries on Netflix. "I just started writing a list of all the historic things that I could possibly do. And for me, being the first Japanese person to win a Grand Slam was at the top of the list."

After I finished watching the first episode of Netflix's Naomi Osaka, this was the quote that resonated with me the most. Here was an extremely skilled and introverted athlete who used the negative opinions of others as motivation to do what seemed impossible. And now, she has not only won multiple Grand Slams, but she also made history as the first Asian player to be ranked number one by the Women's Tennis Association. It's enough to inspire any girl with a big dream.

But as thrilling as it's been to see Osaka break these barriers, I've always been curious about her life behind the scenes. For instance, how has she been dealing with her success? When exactly did she develop a passion for tennis? And how is she navigating the media's response to her exit from the French Open? Fortunately, this documentary series has the answers to all of these questions and more.

The eye-opening series, which is narrated by the 23-year-old, offers an in-depth look at Osaka's childhood, her family and her sudden rise to fame through never-before-seen footage and flashbacks to old games—but it never feels overwhelming. It's like stepping into Osaka's shoes and getting to experience it all through her eyes, from photo shoots and massage appointments to even the most mundane tasks. But what I especially love is how this series captures her quiet nature. The overall tone of this series feels a lot like Osaka's calm and introverted personality. And as shown in one particular clip of her match against Coco Gauff, Osaka's fierceness on the court is a pretty stark contrast to her humility off the court.

It's worth noting that Osaka's decision to skip the French Open isn't directly discussed in the first episode, but it starts to lay the foundation with a few clips from past interviews. Knowing how these press conferences have affected her, it was especially disheartening to see some of these interview flashbacks (like when Ellen DeGeneres asked her to name an opponent who defeated her in a recent match), but they certainly hint at why Osaka went so far to avoid the press.

I like that this doc is so raw and emotional, but what I love most is that Osaka isn't idolized or depicted as a dazzling athlete who has her life together. Rather, she's seen as a vulnerable human being. She's a young adult who's still trying to establish her identity and figure out what she wants while navigating the pressures of success—all while trying to keep up appearances in the public eye. Towards the end of episode one, Osaka mentions how she often ties her self-worth to winning tennis matches and she says, "To anyone that would know me, they know me for being a tennis player. So, what am I if I'm not a good tennis player?"

It'll be interesting to see Osaka explore that question further in the series. But if, like me, you've also been eager to peel back the layers of this history-making tennis star, then you should definitely give this a watch.

Naomi Osaka will be available to stream on Netflix starting Friday, July 16.

Purewow Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

This insightful and intimate docuseries will have you feeling like you just spent an entire weekend bonding with the tennis phenom—minus the extra glitz and glamour.

For a full breakdown of PureWow's entertainment rating system, click here.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...