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6 Jan, 2020 13:48

Australian Open 2020: Naomi Osaka reveals story of paddleboard accident: 'I almost died' (VIDEO)

Reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka has spoken about how an off-season paddleboarding trip in the Caribbean nearly ended in disaster.

The 22-year-old two-time Grand Slam winner was speaking ahead of her first tournament of the season at the Brisbane International this week, and revealed that she suffered a scary accident while paddleboarding with her sister while on vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

"She made me paddleboard and then the current took us and I almost died," Osaka told the WTA website.

"I've never gone paddleboarding. I don't like the ocean like that... So we went paddleboarding next to the house.

"Suddenly we hit a current and I'm freaking out a little bit because the house is getting further... I'm like, 'how far out are you trying to take us?' The water is black and the house is like a tiny dot, and I can't really swim that well."

Osaka admitted that her panic when she fell into the sea only served to make things worse as she started to think about what might lie beneath the waves.

"Now I'm thinking about all the sharks in the Caribbean and I was screaming at her," she added, laughing.

"'If I die, this is on you. You're going to have to tell mom how I died in the Turks and Caicos.'

"I get back on the board and then she decides that she wants to say that she sees a shark, so now I'm screaming and crying. I was fine, though, because I'm here. But in that moment I just really thought I don't want to die like that."

Thankfully, Osaka recovered and returned to the shore without any lasting harm, and is now looking to prepare for the defense of her Australian Open crown with a solid outing in Brisbane, where she is the third seed for the competition behind Australian world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and Czech starlet Karolina Pliskova.