‘You Shouldn’t Be Punished For Looking After Yourself’

‘You Shouldn’t Be Punished For Looking After Yourself’


Mental health advocates joined athletes and celebrities to defend tennis star Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open on Monday to care for her mental health after being fined and threatened with suspensions from future major tournaments.

Key Facts

Mental health professionals and advocates praised Osaka, who said she has “suffered long bouts of depression” since 2018, for prioritizing her wellbeing over the tournament, joining athletes and celebrities including Serena Williams, Steph Curry and Ava DuVernay.

Osaka, who’s ranked No. 2 in the world, said last week she planned to skip press conferences during the French Open because the journalists “have no regard for athletes’ mental health.” 

After French Open officials fined her $15,000 and, along with other organizers of Grand Slam tournaments, threatened to suspend her from competing in the prestigious and lucrative events, Osaka withdrew from the tournament on Monday and said she would “take some time away from the court.”

Crucial Quote

“Thank you @naomiosaka for setting an example for young people who are struggling with their mental health by making your self-care a priority,” tweeted YoungMinds, a U.K. mental health nonprofit. “You shouldn’t be punished for looking after yourself,” they wrote. The National Alliance On Mental Illness, a U.S. advocacy group, also praised Osaka, telling her, “You are #NotAlone.”

Crucial Quote

“The tour is completely backwards on health,” tweeted Andrew Boozary, head of Population Health & Social Medicine at University Health Network, a hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. He contrasted the treatment of Osaka’s withdrawal “to protect her own mental health” with that of Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked male player, who Boozary said “has been pushing anti-vaccine positions all year with no penalty.”  

Key Background

Professional athletes have become more open in recent years to speaking about their mental health, including Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and NBA forward Kevin Love. As many as 35% of top athletes live with mental illness, according to Athletes for Hope, a nonprofit that helps athletes contribute “to the charities and causes they care about.” 

Further Reading

Naomi Osaka Withdraws From French Open After Media Boycott Fine (Forbes)

Naomi Osaka Withdraws From French Open to Prioritize Mental Health Over Mandatory Press Conferences (Variety)

With Her Candor, Osaka Adds To Conversation About Mental Health (New York Times)

Naomi Osaka Fined $15,000 And Faces Suspension Over Boycotting Press Conferences (Forbes)

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