I’ve admittedly been following the story of Naomi Osaka. In the tennis world, it’s huge. Beyond the wide world of sports, her story is just as important.
When I was in high school, tennis was the only sport I fell in love with. Our neighborhood pool had a bunch of tennis courts, and during the summer I’d play my best friend Jim or older brother Jeff almost every day. Maybe someday we’ll look into a Wenatchee Racket Club membership near our house and I’ll get back into it.
Back to Naomi’s story, her being willing to take a stand about something in which she believes and risking not being liked, well, makes some people not like her. It’s polarized. Of course, the upside to risking not being liked is that some people like her. A lot. Because they see her taking a stand. Being genuine and clear about who she is and what’s important to her.
There are those in the court (like that?) who think she’s not grateful and should grin and bear the situation that is professional sports. In the other court (or on the other side of the net?), there are the folks who applaud her courage. Of the comments I read in the NYT, this one stood out:
‘As an introvert myself, I can only say to her: everything is OK, you are fully OK, we all stand behind you. And if you decide you want nothing to do with tennis, that’s OK.’