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Naomi Osaka Withdraws from French Open to Focus on Mental Health

Just days after the Tennis Champion Naomi Osaka, was named “The World’s Highest Paid Female Athlete” for a second year in a row, she announces that she is withdrawing from the French Open and will “take some time away from the court.” The day before her announcement Osaka was fined and threatened with sanctions for skipping her mandatory media obligations.

As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, the backlash some are giving Osaka prove we have a long way to go. Osaka cites her mental health as the motivation for the decision. In a post on social media, she reveals her experience with depression and anxiety. Even in this moment Osaka apologies to members of the media who may have been impacted by her decision. Although a kind gesture, no one should have to apologize for choosing to make their mental health a priority.

At just 23 years old, Osaka is already a four-time major champion and becoming one of the most accomplished athletes of today. However, before she is an athlete, before all of her accomplishments and accolades, above anything else she is human. Many athletes and celebrities have shown their support and shared words of encouragement to Osaka.

Osaka has continued to be brave and vulnerable amidst the controversy. Her decision has caused much debate in the sports world and beyond. Along with being fined $15,000 for skipping her post match news conference Sunday, Osaka was also met with a surprising warning from all four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face stiffer penalties including disqualification or even suspension, if she continues to avoid the media.

Determined to take a stand, Osaka states that she “really wants to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.” Even when she should be solely focusing on her mental health she is prepared to take on a battle that many athletes can relate to.

Being a GladiatHer, sometimes means taking time away from pursuing your passion and purpose to take care of yourself. Some may not agree, but we must all respect Osaka’s decision. Her decisions warrants a continued conversation about the treatment of athletes and an even deeper conversation about mental health. During her time away, we hope that Osaka, who inspires so many, can take the time she needs to take care of her mental health.


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