As the highest-paid female athlete in the world for the second consecutive year and a four-time Grand Slam-winning tennis champion, 23-year-old Naomi Osaka announced yesterday that she won’t be doing any press during this year’s French Open in order to prioritize her mental health.
“Hey everyone, hope you’re all doing well,” the tennis champion’s statement began. “I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros. I’ve often thought that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one. We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
“I watch many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well,” she noted before expressing, “I believe that the whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament and a couple [of the] journalists have interviewed me since I was young so I have a friendly relationship with most of them. However, if the organizations think that they can just keep saying “Do press or you’re gonna be fined,“ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpieces of their [corperations] then I just gotta laugh. Anyways, I hope the considerable amount that I get fined for this will go towards a mental health charity. xoxo ✌🏾❤️”
On Twitter, Osaka’s statement has garnered over 15K Retweets and 92K Likes, with many in the replies praising the 23-year-old for taking a stance choosing to put her mental health first. Relatedly, on Instagram, she’d shared the message with two well-known clips — the first being of a white male journalist questioning the level of high confidence a young Venus Williams displayed in her ability to beat an opponent during an interview from 1995, and the other being Marshawn Lynch saying, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” at a Super Bowl Media Day press conference back in 2015.
Williams commented on the young fellow tennis champion’s post with, “Girl, do you. Your life is yours to live! 🔥🔥🔥🔥❤️❤️❤️.”