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Tennis Star Naomi Osaka on Claiming Her New Title as Mom

The four-time Grand Slam singles champion shares what has surprised her along her pregnancy journey, what she hopes to pass on to her daughter and the power of prioritizing your wellbeing.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published May 16, 2023
naomi osaka posing on the tennis court
Image: Courtesy Naomi Osaka

From just a quick glance at Naomi Osaka and her awe-inspiring background, it’s easy to see that this is a woman who has fearlessly tackled every challenge thrown her way. At the age of 25, Osaka has accomplished more than most could ever dream of—she’s won multiple Grand Slam titles, claimed the No.1 ranking in women’s tennis, started her own skincare line, launched several clothing collaborations and even penned a children’s book. But perhaps most notably, Osaka has become a powerful advocate for mental health, bravely stepping away from the French Open to prioritize her own well-being and sparking a global conversation on the importance of self-care.

As she prepares to embark on her next great adventure as a mother, Osaka is continuing to lead the way with her unwavering commitment to self-care and empowerment. Since announcing her pregnancy in 2022, she has fearlessly pursued her passions and priorities, putting her health and the health of her baby first in everything she does. Whether she’s traveling the world, developing kid’s meditations or collaborating on pregnancy-safe skincare products, Osaka is a true inspiration to moms everywhere.

In this exclusive interview, Osaka opens up about her experiences as a soon-to-be mom, sharing her pregnancy routines and baby preparations, and how she’s finding balance in the midst of a demanding career.

Image: @naomiosaka | Instagram

The Bump: Congratulations on your growing family! What are some things that have taken you by surprise during this major transition?

Naomi Osaka: Thank you! I’m so excited for this new chapter. I’ve been surprised at how connected I feel to my baby already! Before I was pregnant, it was “just me,” but now I have a whole new life to account for. It’s still all very surreal, but I am excited!

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TB: What do you wish you would’ve known when you started this journey?

NO: For me, I’m still learning and absorbing all the feedback I’m getting from other moms. I think I will continue to learn every day even after the baby is born. I was surprised at how much you need to account for when pregnant. It’s not just what you put into your body but also what products you put on your body that make a difference. So eating clean and healthy, as well as being mindful of the products I’m using on my face and body, has been a big part of my pregnancy.

TB: As a vocal mental health advocate, you’ve helped break down the stigma of discussing mental health issues in the world of professional sports. Pregnancy can also pose intense challenges to one’s emotional wellness. How have you cared for your mental health during your pregnancy?

NO: Practicing mindfulness and incorporating meditation into my every day has done wonders for my mental health. Pregnancy is a time full of changes, and staying grounded and calm helps with emotional wellness. Pregnant women need to take care of their minds as much as their bodies during these nine months! I’ve also found talking to my friends who have children to be helpful. They’ve gone through many of the same things I’m currently going through, so they provide great advice.

TB: What’s the best pregnancy or parenting advice you’ve gotten so far?

NO: Don’t overanalyze and stress about what “could” happen. Live in the moment and do the best you can.

TB: Are there any self-care rituals you’ve developed or remained dedicated to during your pregnancy?

NO: I’m a huge proponent of meditation. It helps keep me grounded and at peace; it’s become an amazing part of my daily ritual. I even did a special meditation with Modern Health tailored just for kids. Maintaining an inner sense of calm is great for both myself and the baby!

TB: You’ve previously spoken about how you started your own skincare brand KINLÒ to expand the options for women with melanated skin tones. What’s one thing you’d tell pregnant BIPOC about skincare?

NO: It’s such a common misconception that BIPOC do not need SPF, but that’s definitely not the case. In fact, those with melanated skin have a lower skin cancer survival rate than their white counterparts. I started KINLÒ to combat this misconception and educate on the importance of SPF protection for all skin tones.

TB: What’s been your go-to KINLÒ product during your pregnancy?

NO: Pregnancy adds new complications to skin that may not have been there before—hyperpigmentation, melasma, pregnancy rashes and more. All KINLÒ products are pregnancy-safe, and I’ve been especially loving my Golden Rays Sunscreen—as it’s a mineral sunscreen, it sits on top of skin instead of sinking in like a chemical sunscreen would. KINLÒ’s Coconut Body Oil has been great at combating stretch marks on my tummy too.

TB: What does your own skin/beauty routine look like these days?

NO: My skincare routine hasn’t changed that much since I became pregnant. I still make sure to apply SPF each day. The KINLÒ Always Golden Daily Moisturizer spray is perfect for everyday use and protection. I also love applying a face oil (I use KINLÒ’s Hydrating Facial Oil before I put on foundation to ensure a moisturized base.

TB: As a professional athlete, how has pregnancy shifted your approach to physical fitness? What routines have you kept, and what changes have you made?

NO: Even while pregnant, it’s important to stay active. Obviously, I’ve swapped my more high-impact exercises for more low-impact ones, but I’m still keeping my body moving. It’s not only good for my physical health but my mental health too as I progress along in my pregnancy.

TB: How are you preparing for your first few months postpartum? Which support systems are you hoping to put in place?

NO: I’ve been loving all the baby prep—getting the nursery together, building a baby wardrobe, etc. My family is so excited to welcome this little one into the world. I’m really blessed to have a strong support system of friends and family to help me as I navigate being a first-time mom!

TB: Even as a four-time Grand Slam singles champion with two Australian Open and two US Open titles, you’ve said that you still sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome. How do you plan to combat imposter syndrome as you claim your next title as Mom?

NO: Curbing imposter syndrome is never easy, and I know many moms can relate to never feeling like they’re doing the “right” thing. But I feel like it’s important to take things day by day and ground yourself in knowing you’re doing your very best for yourself and your baby. Being able to talk to other moms who have been through this journey before is super helpful—they’ve all “been there!”

TB: In your pregnancy announcement, you said you would be returning to the court for the 2024 Australian Open. Have you mapped out a timeline for getting back to training? Or have you relaxed your expectations around your return?

NO: While I’m so excited to get back on the court, I want to focus on the first few special months with my newborn. I don’t want to set a strict timeline for myself, but I definitely still plan on being at the Australian Open! I am excited for my child to one day see me and say, “That’s my mom out there.”

TB: As a Japanese Haitian woman who grew up in the United States, are there any cultural traditions you look forward to sharing with your child? What were some of your favorites growing up?

NO: To be honest, this is a lot about food for me. The food in Japan and Haiti are very different, but I love both equally, and food is such a huge part of both cultures. My mom cooks amazing Japanese food, and I’ve learned a lot from her, so I definitely want to pass that down. And I’m always on the hunt for good Haitian food wherever I go, so I look forward to taking my little one to those restaurants as well.

TB: It can be hard to deal with the chaos and unexpected challenges of motherhood. As a self-admitted perfectionist, how do you plan to give yourself grace as a new mom?

NO: This is a new journey for me, and knowing that each day is going to be different and exciting helps alleviate some of my perfectionism. No mom is perfect. I’m prepared for everything that comes along with being a new mom, and I can’t wait to embrace the unexpected!

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