Tennis star Naomi Osaka has broken her silence after her withdrawal from the French Open and Wimbledon in an essay for Time Magazine’s Olympic issue.
Osaka sparked an international firestorm when she announced she wouldn’t be doing any press conferences at the French Open, citing a lack of care for athletes’ mental health.
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It was a stance that split the tennis and wider sports world as fellow players distanced themselves from Osaka’s comments.
After the grand slams threatened to disqualify Osaka, the world No. 2 pulled out of the French Open after being fined following her first round match. She also pulled out of Wimbledon.
But the 23-year-old Japanese star is set to come back to the sport at the Olympics, where she revealed she would attend press conferences.
But in an essay with Time Magazine, Osaka shared some self-reflections from the chaos that ensued after her French Open stance.
Osaka began with the lesson “You can never please everyone”, stating the world is so divided.
“When I said I needed to miss French Open press conferences to take care of myself mentally, I should have been prepared for what unfolded,” she wrote.
Naomi Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion.Source:AFP
Her next lesson was that everyone suffers or knows someone who suffers from issues related to their mental health.
Regarding the media, she said “I love the press; I do not love all press conferences”.
“I always try to answer genuinely and from the heart. I’ve never been media-trained, so what you see is what you get. The way I see it, the reliance and respect from athlete to press is reciprocal,” she wrote.
“However, in my opinion (and I want to say that this is just my opinion and not that of every tennis player on tour), the press-conference format itself is out of date and in great need of a refresh. I believe that we can make it better, more interesting and more enjoyable for each side. Less subject vs. object; more peer to peer.”
In saying she stands by her stance to boycott the press conferences, Osaka also asked for the opportunity to “take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict 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,” she said. “You wouldn’t have to divulge your most personal symptoms to your employer; there would likely be HR measures protecting at least some level of privacy.”
She added she felt “a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms” and asked for “some level of privacy and empathy next time” she fronts the media.
Osaka called for a small number of “sick days” per year where
World reacts to Osaka essay
Naomi Osaka started the conversation on mental health.Source:Getty Images
The essay quickly garnered attention with many fans praising Osaka’s honesty.
Iconic for this 👏🏽🌐🏆
“Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up, I may have saved a life.” Naomi Osaka is a brave and generous 23-year-old. https://t.co/3aWdF4RlUE
@naomiosaka is a treasure. Thank you for sharing your truth. https://t.co/M1vzo1pt5a
Thank you. @naomiosaka it is ok not to be ok. We are human. https://t.co/LaXfNb3sB6
Naomi Osaka doesn’t owe anyone anything… she can do what she wants.
But former talk show host Piers Morgan has hit out at Osaka’s essay.
Having labelled her a “arrogant spoiled brat” after her French Open withdrawal, Morgan hit out with another tweet dripping with sarcasm.
“So inspiring to see brave Naomi continue her self-promotional media tour in which she does yet another magazine cover/interview, in which she criticises the media for not better respecting her privacy,” he wrote.
So inspiring to see brave Naomi continue her self-promotional media tour in which she does yet another magazine cover/interview, in which she criticises the media for not better respecting her privacy. 🙏 https://t.co/Lp59dmZdT5
Read Naomi Osaka’s full essay ‘It’s O.K. Not to Be O.K.’
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