- When tennis star Naomi Osaka spoke up about athletes’ mental health during press conferences, she received mixed responses.
- She later withdrew from the French Open, saying that her mental health is more important.
- She got a lot of supporting words from colleague Serena Williams and even actor Will Smith.
Naomi Osaka has found herself in the spotlight and under constant media scrutiny since her two consecutive Grand Slam singles titles. She has been the first woman to achieve that since Serena Williams, whom she also defeated twice in 2018. She is also the first Asian player to be ranked No.1 in world singles.
But all that time in the spotlight may have taken a toll on the tennis star.
Osaka first posted a note in late May that she will not be doing any press during the French Open. She cited the media scrutiny that seemed to disregard the athletes’ mental health.
She said that the media sometimes asks athletes repeating questions that trigger doubt in their performance, which can become especially difficult after a loss. Osaka compared the feeling to “kicking a person while they’re down.”
Tennis players are usually fined $15,000 for missing a press conference. But Osaka said that her mental health was more important. She added, “I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity.”
That post received mixed responses.
She then made a follow-up post five days later on May 31, addressing the “controversy” she caused. She made the shocking decision of withdrawing from the French Open, explaining that she will be prioritizing her mental health.
Osaka revealed that she had been battling depression since the 2018 U.S. Open and decided that she needed some time off.
Several colleagues and other personalities showed their support for Osaka’s decision. The mental health app Calm also offered to pay her fines.
Williams said, “The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. Like I said, I’ve been in those positions.”
Will Smith also made sure to share a personal, handwritten note to show his support for Osaka.
His note read, “Hey Naomi, You are right. They are wrong! I am with you.”
Smith added another photo of himself holding up the note.
While there will always be some ready to criticize, there were still a lot of kind people ready to support Osaka in her time of need.
Source: Tank’s Good News