Naomi Osaka Withdrawals from French Open and Raises Athlete Mental Health Awareness

The 23 year-old tennis champion pulled out of the French Open after being fined for skipping a press conference due to her mental health

Courtesy of Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka shocks the world by making her mental health a priority before playing at the French Open, a major tennis tournament that all tennis players dream of participating in.

Last week, Osaka announced she would be skipping press conferences at the tournament, citing concerns for her mental health. Knowing that she would be fined, Osaka planned that the money would go towards a mental health charity.

Yesterday she kept her word after winning in the first round. Tennis officials were left baffled and fined her for $15,000, while threatening her with further penalties.

On Monday night she shared with her followers on Instagram, “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw.” Osaka hopes that she can work with the Tour to discuss ways they can make things better for the players, press and fans.

Osaka is the second-ranked woman in tennis and the highest-paid female athlete in the world, and has quit the French Open at just 23 years old.

In her post, she mentions that she has suffered from “long bouts of depression” since the US Open in 2018 and has had a tough time coping with it. The introverted tennis star manages her social anxiety by wearing headphones at all her tournaments to tune people out.

Courtesy of Naomi Osaka’s Instagram
Courtesy of Naomi Osaka’s Instagram

Following her decision to not take part in her media duties last week, the French Open was criticized for posting a tweet, which has since been deleted. The tweet showed photos of Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff engaging in media duties with the caption, “They understood the assignment.”

The tweet drew an immense amount of criticism and support for Osaka. She later tweeted in response, “anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable.”

Courtesy of Naomi Osaka’s Twitter

Rennae Stubbs, a retired Australian tennis player tweeted in Osaka’s defense, “This is some serious shade from Roland Garros and the FFT”, (French Tennis Federation).

Gilles Moretton, the French Tennis Federation president, said in a statement after the tweet was deleted that the FFT was “sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka.”

The WTA tour released a statement saying mental health and awareness around the subject are one of the “highest priorities for the WTA.”

Osaka’s decision to withdrawal from the French Open certainly wasn’t an easy choice, but this might be the impact that will change people’s perception that athletes suffer from mental health issues just like the rest of us.

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