Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka faced an unexpected second-round exit at Wimbledon on Wednesday, attributing her loss to a lack of confidence and self-doubt.

“Even though in the beginning, it was kind of like we were trading games, I don’t know why, but I didn’t feel fully confident in myself. I didn’t feel like I was playing that well,” Osaka said, as reported by Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press. “I guess those doubts started trickling in a lot (and) into my game.”

The 6-4, 6-1 defeat against Emma Navarro highlighted the challenges Osaka has faced since returning to the tour in January after a 15-month hiatus to become a mother. Her performance on the grass courts of Wimbledon has historically been less dominant compared to her success on hard courts. All her major titles have come from the U.S. Open and Australian Open.

Navarro, on the other hand, played an impeccable game, recording just five unforced errors compared to 16 winners and facing zero break points. The win propelled Navarro to the third round at the All England Club for the first time in her career. She attributes her success to meticulous mental preparation, detailing how she uses her cellphone’s notes app to write reminders and strategies before each match.

“That’s an atmosphere that could easily overwhelm me, or overwhelm any player, and I spent just a good amount of time preparing myself mentally for the emotions and the nerves I was going to feel. Then once I got out there, I just felt really at home,” Navarro said.  “In the notes, I told myself to make the court my home and never be afraid to stay out there for as long as it takes … I was able to do that today and it’s pretty cool to come out on the other end of an experience when you’re not sure how its going to go.”

Naomi Osaka's first-round match at Wimbledon contrasts with second

Emma Navarro of the United States shakes hands with Naomi Osaka of Japan after their match on day three.
© Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Osaka’s return to professional tennis has been met with mixed results. She won her first match at Wimbledon on Monday since 2018, defeating Diane Parry 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in a thrilling contest. The victory marked her return to Wimbledon after a five-year absence.

“I’m just really excited to be here,” Osaka said after her first-round win.

However, her performance against Navarro contrasted sharply with her first-round success. While Osaka managed to edge out Parry in a three-set battle, her second-round match saw her struggle to defeat Navarro.

Navarro’s journey in major tournaments has been on the up and up. She moved from No. 143 at the end of 2022 to No. 38 by the end of last year and currently sits at No. 17. This season alone, she reached the third round at the Australian Open, the fourth round at the French Open.