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My Mental Health Comes First

“Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.” Tennis star, Naomi Osaka has been very open about her mental health and took a very brave stance to protect her mental health. She revealed that she has suffered anxiety and ‘bouts of depression since her historic yet controversial win at the 2018 US Open vs Serena Williams. A large part of it has come with the result of dealing with the scrutiny of the press.

When she arrived in Paris, she announced that she wouldn’t be attending mandatory news conferences at the French Open citing, “disregard for athletes’ mental.” The French Tennis Federation responded by announcing a fine of $15,000 and Osaka could face further fines and possible expulsion from the tournament if she continued to refuse to attend media events.

After winning her first-round match against Patrica Maria Tag, Osaka did participate in a brief on-court interview but refused to do a post-match news conference.

“As a sport, there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while others all honor commitments.” Top Tennis Officials from France, Australia, England, and the US joint statement. Officials also said in their statement that they reached out to Osaka but she didn’t express to them what she was experiencing. After announcing her decision not to play, The French Open tweeted (which has now been deleted) photos of Rafel Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Aryna Sabalenka, and Coco Gauff with the caption, They understood the assignment.

Naomi is one of the top tennis players, male or female in the world. She represents Japan and was ranked third by the Woman’s Tennis Association. In Asia, she was the first player to get the highest ranking singles. The 23-year-old has four Grand Slam titles, six WTA titles, winner of the 2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open, and 2020 US Open.

Tennis veteran, Venus Williams spoke to the press after her loss to Ekaterina Alexandrova at Ronald Garros to speak about how she handles the press, “For me personally, how I cope, how I deal with it, was that I know every single person asking a question can’t play as well as I can and never will. So no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me. That’s how I deal with it but each person deals with it differently,”


Osaka has received a lot of praise for taking a stand. Nike, who signed her to a major deal in 2019 after first Grand Slam win in 2018, released a statement, “Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience."

Sweetgreen tweetedd their support

Celebrities and athletes took to social media to offer their support. Common posted a picture of Oska with the caption “Self care and self preservation is paramount! Take care of yourself sister! I’m proud of you @naomiosaka.”

Stephen Curry tweeted his support

Russell Wilson tweeted “WE are with you [praying hand emoji] #courage

April Reign creator of #OscarSoWHite tweeted,”Good morning to Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka and all Black Woman tennis players. That’s it and that’s all.”

Maria Shriever, journalist and former first lady of Cali tweeted

But some tennis stars weren’t necessarily in agreeance with Osaka. Daniel Medvedev, No.2 -ranked man in tennis said in a press conference, “I understand why she doesn’t it. I respect her opinion. Me, I have no problems. I try always to come to a press conference, bad mood or good mood. And I feel like even sometimes in the bad mood, I can be in a better mood after talking to you guys.”

13x French Open champion Rafael Nadal told the press, “Without the press...probably we will not be the athletes we are today. We (aren’t) going to have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be popular, no?”

Johanna Konta, 3x major semifinalist ranked 20th told reporters, “There’s a lot of truth in what she said, but then again, there’s also the expectations and commitments that come with being a professional athlete, as well and this is one, so its about finding...the right balance.


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