Earlier this week, Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open.
On Sunday, May 30th, Osaka was fined $15,000 for declining media interviews for a post-match press conference. According to officials, Osaka failed to meet her contractual media obligations. Tennis officials expected her to attend a news conference after her first-round victory against Romania’s Maria Tig. But Osaka announced that she had to prioritize her mental health instead.
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health,” Osaka wrote in a Twitter post on May 26th.”We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds, and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
Fans from all over the world supported her decision. But there were many who criticized her decision, citing her obligations as a pro athlete.
Her latest post on May 31st provided more transparency around her struggle with depression.
“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018. I have had a really hard time coping with that.”
She adds, “I’m gonna take some time away from the court right now. But when the time is right, I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press, and fans.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
Osaka is the highest-paid female athlete in the world, Sportico reported. She’s also the second-ranked woman in Tennis. The 23-year-old pro athlete has been dominating the court, taking home four Grand Slam championships. But after maintaining a rigorous schedule and frequent media interviews, Osaka wants to devote more time to self-care.
Will Smith and other celebrities are standing by Osaka during this time. On June 3, Smith posted a message of support. “Hey Naomi, You are right. They are wrong! I am with you.”
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The Calm app, founded by a meditation and mindfulness company, announced a $15,000 pledge to a French mental health organization to support Osaka’s decision. The organization has also pledged to pay the fines of any other players who choose not to participate in Grand Slam press conferences this year.
Mental health is health. 🎾
To support Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health, Calm is donating $15,000 to @LaureusSport in France, an organization doing incredible work in the mental health space to transform the lives of young people through the power of sport. pic.twitter.com/C53ptXsks5
— Calm (@calm) June 2, 2021
Grand Slam authorities have promised to address the mental health concerns of its players, ESPN reported.
Osaka has been quiet on social media since making her big announcement. On Saturday, the Tennis superstar tuned back in to express her gratitude to her supporters.
“Just want to say thank you for all the love. Haven’t been on my phone much but I wanted to hop on here and tell you all that I really appreciate it.”