This weekend, Naomi Osaka, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open singles champion, announced she was pulling out of the French Open.
Naomi’s reasons came to light at the start of the tennis tourny when she announced she would not be doing any press before or after each match. She explained she suffers from depression and anxiety and in order to remain focused on the game, she did not feel up to the intense grilling the press can often subject players to.
As a result of not meeting with media after her first round win, Osaka was fined $15,000.00. For not wanting to suffer a panic attack on tv.
“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,” Osaka, 23, wrote on social media. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”
Since her announcement, many stars of the sport have come out to support her.
Serena Williams spoke out during a post-match news conference on Monday. “I feel for Naomi. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
Williams, 39, added that many of the press conferences have been “very difficult,” but they have “made me stronger.”
I am so sad about Naomi Osaka.I truly hope she will be ok. As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi- we are all pulling for you!
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) May 31, 2021
It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression.
Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs.
We wish her well.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 31, 2021
— NaomiOsaka????? (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021