London | Osaka is Coming to Netflix
© Hannah Peters/Getty Images
A new documentary series following Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has been announced as a joint project between Netflix and Uninterrupted, and will go behind the scenes of the life of the 2-time Grand Slam champion who became the first Asian player to reach the No 1 singles ranking after winning her first Grand Slam at the US Open in 2018, and second at the Australian Open in 2019.
To be able to tell my story and let people in during this big year, working with a team that really understands me, has been a rewarding experience. It won’t look like a traditional sports documentary, and I’m so excited to share it with everyone. Naomi Osaka
This is a partnership with the LeBron James-founded media outlet Uninterrupted, produced by Film 45 and directed by Garrett Bradley.
Recording for the series began in August 2019 with the Australian Open and will follow Osaka on tour through the 2020 Grand Slams while preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The documentary series takes viewers on a journey with Osaka, with unprecedented access to the Japanese.
The series will cover Naomi’s pivotal year, from the US Open in August 2019 and on tour with the tennis star as she plays in each of the Grand Slams and prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
With a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka emigrated from Japan to the US as a child, where she rose to become the first Asian player to reach the heights of international tennis.
Spending time with her during a hectic training and travel schedule, the crew explores the immense pressure she is under, her journey of self-discovery, off-season time digging into her interests and her well-known, quirky and honest personality.
They also travel with Naomi to Japan to understand her deep connection with the country she represents and the reflections of her multi-cultural identity.
“To be able to tell my story and let people in during this big year, working with a team that really understands me, has been a rewarding experience,” says Osaka.
“It won’t look like a traditional sports documentary, and I’m so excited to share it with everyone.”
Bradley has quite a few notable credits, especially with 2017’s Alone, which won the Short Film Jury Award in non-fiction at that year’s Sundance Film Festival and was shortlisted for the Academy Awards.
Osaka’s story is certainly interesting, particularly with her controversial 2018 US Open win over Serena Williams and with her subsequent performances.
She emigrated to the US as a child, idolising Williams and watching her play at the 1999 French 0pen.
She faced off against Williams for the first time at the 2018 Miami Open, where she defeated her idol, repeating the result in the US Open final to win her first Grand Slam title.
Osaka held both American and Japanese citizenship but relinquished the former to represent her birth country at the 2020 Olympic Games, which will be held in Tokyo.
While Netflix may be not too interested in live sports rights, they’re definitely engaged with sports on the documentary side, and this is the latest move there.