The saga of the mental health of tennis champion Naomi Osaka will further the conversation of how the major tennis organizations will handle future ramifications of forcing the players to adhere to speaking to the press.
According to ESPN, after punishing Osaka for not talking to the media after her first and only match at the French Open and then threatening to disqualify her from future matches, the people who are in charge of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments have promised to address concerns surrounding the mental health of its players.
After being fined $15,000 for not attending her post-match news conference on Sunday after her victory against Patricia Maria Tig, the tennis champion has decided to take a break from the sport as she withdrew from the French Open.
In a joint statement from those in charge of the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, and Australian Open stated, “On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court. She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate. Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another. We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face.”
Osaka took to social media earlier this week to announce her withdrawal from the tournament as she has decided to focus on her mental health.
“Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. 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. 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.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021