During off-season, Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka went paddleboarding with her sister in the Caribbean. It was supposed to be a fun time off court but things took a major turn when Osaka said to have had a “near-death experience” instead. The Grand Slam champion begins the season at the Brisbane International this week, but before going into the court again she had been vacationing in the Turks and Caicos Islands when the incident happened.

“It was really fun — my sister was there. She made me paddleboard, and then the current took us and I almost died,” Osaka said in an interview with the WTA website, News18 reported. 22-year-old Osaka and her sister experienced to have been in shallow waters but she noticed a current had taken them away from the shore. “I’ve never gone paddleboarding. I don’t like the ocean like that … So we went paddleboarding next to the house. Suddenly we hit a current and I’m freaking out a little bit because the house is getting further … I’m like, ‘how far out are you trying to take us?’… the water is black and the house is like a tiny dot, and I can’t really swim that well,” she added.

Osaka further explained how she fell into the water and panicked. “Now I’m thinking about all the sharks in the Caribbean and I was screaming at her,” she added, laughing. “‘If I die, this is on you. You’re going to have to tell mom how I died in the Turks and Caicos.’ I get back on the board and then she decides that she wants to say that she sees a shark, so now I’m screaming and crying. I was fine, though, because I’m here. But in that moment I just really thought I don’t want to die like that,” she cited.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tennis pro Naomi Osaka went paddleboarding with her sister in the Caribbean and had a “near-death experience”
  • “She made me paddleboard, and then the current took us and I almost died,” Osaka said
  • Osaka is representing Japan in Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Naomi became Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion in last year’s US Open final

World number four Osaka is representing Japan in Tokyo Olympics in 2020. In September last year, she won the Pan Pacific Open final and became first Japanese to win so since Kimiko Date’s historic win in 1995. On her return, she defeated world number 41 Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-3 in the final, an easy task for the regaining champion. Osaka secured her first two Grand Slams at the US and Australian Open since her last outing. Since then she has improved her brilliant form and came out triumphant.

She becomes first Japanese to win Pan Pacific Open since Kimiko Date’s historic win in 1995

READ: How Naomi Osaka Rose To The Top From World No.72 In A Year’s Time

Past achievements

Naomi became Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion – man or woman – after thrashing her idol, Serena Williams, in last year’s US Open final. She went toe-to-toe with the 23-time Grand Slam champion and defeated her in the infamous 2018 US Open final.

The Japanese star reached number one on the world rankings in 2019 and finished the year at number three, behind Australia’s Ash Barty and Czech Karolina Pliskova. “I’ve never really taken that long of a break before. But I think it was really necessary because my shoulder was kind of worn down. But after that, I just did rehab and slowly started playing again and I think that that worked out really well because I don’t feel anything in my shoulder, and I like to think that I’m playing well right now,” she added.

Osaka begins her Brisbane International campaign against world number 23 Maria Sakkari of Greece.

Naomi has been playing professional tennis since 2013. Her major breakthrough came when she became an international sensation after beating Angelique Kerber in the first round of the US Open in 2017. In addition to defeating Kerber, Naomi has won matches over other long-time tennis greats, including Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep. She is now eyeing gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Feature Image Credit: Cosmopolitan

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