Naomi Osaka has tremendous support in her advocacy for the mental health of professional tennis players.
Osaka took a mental-health break earlier this year by dropping out of the French Open. Osaka, 23, has been critical about the intensity of media requirements that players must endure. The focus of Netflix’s “Naomi” docuseries shared her ideas in a newly penned essay for Time magazine.
“The press conference format itself is out of date and in great need of a refresh,” she wrote. “I believe that we can make it better, more interesting, and more enjoyable for each side. Less subject vs. object; more peer to peer.”
Some fear that other players will follow her lead and revolt, but, she writes, “no one in tennis has missed a press conference since.”
Osaka argued that players should be permitted to take the occasional break from media obligations without being fined or subject to other sanctions.
“In any other line of work, you would be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, so long as it’s not habitual.”
“In my case, I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms — frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me,” Osaka wrote candidly. “I do not wish that on anyone and hope that we can enact measures to protect athletes, especially the fragile ones.”
Fortunately, Osaka has found support from countless people, ranging from fans to fellow athletes and even Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle.
“Finally, I want to thank everyone who supported me. There are too many to name but I want to start with my family and friends, who have been amazing. There is nothing more important than those relationships,” she wrote. “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. Furthermore, I am eternally grateful to all my partners. Although I am not surprised as I purposefully chose brand partners that are liberal, empathetic, and progressive, I am still tremendously thankful.”