Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka says she had a 'near-death experience' during the off-season when she went paddle boarding with her sister Mari Osaka while they were holidaying at the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.
Osaka won the Australian Open last year to win the second Grand Slam title of her career, following the US Open in 2018. She reached the No. 1 ranking last year but ended the season as World No. 3 and has hired a new coach, Wim Fissette, to work with her in the new season.
Osaka is in Brisbane for the Brisbane International, the first tournament of the 2020 season, and while speaking to reports there, she recounted her paddle boarding experience that went nearly wrong, ''The current took us and I almost died.
Listen, if you're scared, everything becomes more exaggerated. So I'm going to tell you my story. (Mari) might say I'm lying, but this is what happened to me personally.' 'I like to be able to see what's about to happen to me.
So we went paddle boarding next to the house. That was all fine. It was beautiful. It was a beautiful day. I saw a starfish. And suddenly we hit a current and I'm freaking out a little bit because the house is getting further. Unless my eyes are playing tricks on me, it's getting far as heck,.
And I'm like, 'How far out are you trying to take us?' Because it's black, like, the water is black now, and the house is like a tiny dot, and I can't really swim that well. And then I fall in the water, so now I'm like thinking about all the sharks in the Caribbean and I was like screaming at her, like, 'If I die, this is on you.
You're going to have to tell mom how I died in the Turks and Caicos.' I'm like crying, and then I get back on the board and then she decides that she wants to say that she sees a shark. So now I'm like screaming and crying.
But in that moment I just really thought, like, I don't want to die like that. Yeah, that's the end of the story.' '