Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, Surya Bonaly: Comparisons, Lessons, Netflix

As the world was focusing on United States gymnast Simone Biles withdrawing from the Olympics this week, to focus on her mental health, comparisons were being made between the Olympian and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka’s recent withdrawal from the French Open, which was also reportedly due to mental health.

A few weeks back, Netflix released a three-part documentary series on Naomi Osaka. It provides a look inside the on-the-go life of the tennis star. There are parts in Naomi Osaka where the viewer can see how much this woman sacrificed to become one of the best tennis stars and, consequently, most famous athletes in the world.

With all her success, Ms. Osaka is still trying to find her place in the world, beyond tennis. It is worth the watch to understand how many of our favorite athletes live in their own bubbles and give everything they have to compete.

Though sports have an important part to play in society, perhaps we need to start remembering that these athletes are simply people. We would like to believe their lives are better and easier than ours, but many of them deal with physical and emotional issues that can be quite challenging.

We should also take note of what three-time Olympian, decorated figure skating champion Surya Bonaly told us this week on CYInterview [see here] about Simone Biles withdrawing from the Olympics this week. She summed it up quite well:

“For the people who hate, the haters, too bad. You know, a champion’s not a robot. You know, we’re humans and champions have hearts, have, you know, soul and sometimes if your heart shatters or you’re feeling weak, well, it’s hard. And yeah. And I feel bad in a way. But in a way I feel, totally been in her shoes, three times at the Olympics and it’s hard.”

In the wake of Simone Biles withdrawing from competition this week in Tokyo, consider watching Naomi Osaka on Netflix. It may open your eyes to understanding that fame is not all it is cracked up to be. Being the best at all times and living up to that expectation is often unrealistic.

After you finish Naomi Osaka, watch Surya Bonaly’s episode of the Netflix series Losers to understand the pressures and stresses Ms. Bonaly went through to be a world champion figure skater. Today, here in Las Vegas, Surya finds joy in teaching aspiring young figure skaters to excel. Her students are learning from one of the best.

Hopefully, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles find peace and joy in their lives.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix