Naomi Osaka says former first lady Michelle Obama, Novak Djokovic, Meghan Markle and NBA star Stephen Curry were among those who reached out to offer support after she pulled out of the French Open to take a mental health break. .
In an essay that appears in Time olympic preview issue, and it will go on sale in print Friday, Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, writes that she hopes “that we can enact measures to protect athletes, especially the frail,” and suggests that they are sometimes allowed to skip. the obligations of the media without punishment.
“There may be times for any of us where we are dealing with problems behind the scenes,” Osaka said. “Each of us, as human beings, is going through something on some level.”
She said before the French Open started that she would not speak to the media during that tournament, saying the interactions were sometimes awkward and would create doubts for her on the court. Following her first round victory in Paris, Osaka was fined $ 15,000 for skipping her mandatory press conference and threatened by all four Grand Slam tournaments with disqualification or suspension if she continued to avoid the media.
Osaka, 23, later withdrew from that tournament, saying she deals with anxiety before press conferences and has experienced bouts of depression in recent years.
“Believe it or not, I am an introvert by nature and do not court the limelight,” she wrote for Time. “I always try to push myself to stand up for what I think is right, but that often comes at the cost of great anxiety.”
Osaka has not played in a tournament since Paris, and also missed out on Wimbledon, which ends on Sunday. He will compete again in the Tokyo Olympics, which open on July 23, and where he will represent his native Japan.
“It has become apparent to me that literally everyone suffers from mental health problems or knows someone who does,” Osaka wrote in her essay, adding later: “I hope people can relate and understand that they are good not to be “. It’s okay, and it’s okay to talk about it. “
He said the support of the public and people who had experienced fame for themselves had helped.
“I want to thank everyone who supported me,” he wrote. “There are too many to name, but I want to start with my family and friends, who have been incredible. There is nothing more important than those relationships. I also want to thank those in the public eye who have supported, encouraged, and offered such kind words. Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, Novak Djokovic, Meghan Markle, to name a few. “
On the subject of press conferences, Osaka said he believes “the format itself is outdated and in need of a major update.”
He also proposed giving tennis players “a small number of ‘sick days’ per year, in which they are exempted from their press commitments without having to reveal their personal reasons. I think this would bring sport closer to the rest of society ”.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism