On Monday Naomi Osaka, a leading tennis star, said she was withdrawing from the French Open. Naomi revealed that she suffers from depression.
“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,” she said on her social media page.
“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.”
Osaka was fined $15,000 for not speaking to the media after her straight-set victory this past Sunday. Osaka said on her Twitter that if she was to be fined, she would like to see the money donated to a mental health charity.
Gilles Moreton, French Tennis Federation president, said in a statement ” The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year.”
To cope with her depression, Osaka, who was named Laureus Sportswoman of the Year for 2021 after winning her second US Open title, wears headphones regularly during competitions to manage her social anxiety.
Although Roland Garros appears to give the impression of wanting to support Osaka, however in some statements, the messages give the appearance that they want Osaka, 23, to follow the expectations set forth.
“Following the lack of engagement by Naomi Osaka, the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open jointly wrote to her to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialog on the issue” the statement from Roland Garros read. “She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them, and that rules should equally apply to all players.”
Martina Navratilova, who has been a significant fixture in the tennis world for decades, tweeted that she supports Osaka’s decision.
“I truly hope she will be ok,” Navratilova tweeted. “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.”