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BRISBANE, Australia, Tues. Jan. 7, 2019, Express: Japanese-born, Haitian roots tennis star, Naomi Osaka, says she almost died in a light-hearted retelling of a holiday incident in Turks and Caicos during the off season.

Osaka begna her 2020 season at the Brisbane International last night, where she faced Maria Sakkari in the first round.

The world No 3 last played in October when she was forced to withdraw from the WTA Finals with an injury. But she arrived in Australia back to full fitness and eager to get the season underway.

In her off-season, Osaka spent time on holiday in Turks and Caicos with her family and friends.

And speaking in her pre-tournament press conference, the 22-year-old said she almost died while paddleboarding with her sister Mari.

She said: “If you’re scared, everything becomes more exaggerated. So I’m going to tell you my story. She might say I’m lying, but this is what happened to me personally.

“We went paddleboarding. I’ve never gone paddleboarding. I don’t like the ocean like that. I like to be able to see what’s about to happen to me.

“So we went paddleboarding 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 then she was all like, Oh, just let the current take you out and we can just go around it later.

“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.

“Yeah, so 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, and I was fine, though, because I’m here. 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.” – (The Express)

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