Congratulations are in order for four-time Grand Slam Champion Naomi Osaka who snagged an award for Best Athlete in Women’s Sports at the ESPYS in New York on Saturday (July 10). The awards ceremony marked the first time that Osaka has made a public appearance since her tough decision to withdraw herself from the French Open back in May.
The tennis star turned heads at the ESPYS sporting a bold zebra print top and an emerald green fitted Louis Vuitton skirt. Osaka, 23, began her speech citing that she was nervous.
“I just really want to not say a long speech because I’m a bit nervous … I know this year has been really, it hasn’t even finished, but it’s been really tough for a lot of us,” Osaka said. “For me, I just want to say, I really love you guys and this is my first ESPYS so it’s really cool to be surrounded by all these incredible athletes. I think all of you guys are really cool and I watch some of you on TV so it’s really surreal to be here … Thank you so much.”
The big win for Naomi Osaka comes just a week after her emotional TIME essay titled. “It’s O.K. Not To Be O.K.” where she went into more detail about her bought with depression and decision to not partake in post-game media coverage. As a result, Osaka was hit with a whopping $15,000 fine for failing to speak to the press. The tennis champ wrote in her essay that she often experienced “huge waves of anxiety” before speaking with the press and urged the media to change the way in which they address athletes about their mental health and well-being.
“Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions,” Naomi wrote. “ 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 added. “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.”
“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.”
After taking some much-needed rest and relaxation away from the sports world, Naomi concluded her powerful essay writing that she’s excited to return to the court for the Tokyo Olympics. This month, the number 2 ranked tennis player will also give fans an in-depth look into her personal life and career when her Netflix documentary Naomi Osaka premieres on July 16.