In a recent Instagram story, Naomi Osaka shared an interview by basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo, which gave her a new, life-changing perspective on her sports career. The interview touched on an important point that can be applied to any field, including tennis: the idea that nobody is at a career peak all the time and that downs are a necessary part of a successful journey.
The basketball player was asked by a journalist: “Do you view this season as a failure?” Triggered by the question, he responded: “Do you get a promotion every year on your job? No, right. So every year you work is a failure? Yes or no? No. Every year you work, you work towards something, towards a goal, which is to get a promotion, be able to take care of your family, provide a house for them, take care of your parents… You working towards a goal is not a failure, it’s steps to success.”
This statement resonated deeply with Naomi Osaka, who has been very open about the struggles she has faced on and off the court. In the past, she has talked about the pressure she feels as a top athlete, and the expectations that come with it. But after hearing Antetokounmpo’s words, she realized that she had been looking at her career in the wrong way.
Antetokounmpo further pointed out in the interview: “Michael Jordan played 15 years. Won six championships. The other nine years was a failure? That’s what you’re telling me? It’s a wrong question. There’s no failure in sports.”
This new perspective has allowed the four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka to view her career as a series of stepping stones towards her ultimate goals, rather than a series of successes and failures. The soon-to-be-mom, who is motivated to win eight more majors, wrote on Instagram: “This is probably the most refreshing perspective I’ve heard. I think it changed by life lol.” She has realized that every match, every tournament, and every year is an opportunity to learn and grow, and to work towards becoming the best player she can be.
As tennis fans, we often focus on the wins and losses of our favorite players. But it’s important to remember that behind every match, there is a journey of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. And as Antetokounmpo reminded us, that journey is never a failure.
So the next time you watch a tennis match, take a moment to appreciate the effort that goes into every point, and the dedication it takes to reach the highest levels of the sport. And remember that there is no failure in sports, only steps towards success. (photo: Jimmie48)