The Trials and Tribulations of Naomi Osaka may be a lesson learnt

     “I never wanted to be a distraction…The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” WTA’s no. 2 world player Naomi Osaka explained on her mental condition a professional tennis player.  She mentioned of the added stress of playing then going to press conferences was just too much. “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference.” Osaka had commented how athletes and tennis players have to sit there and be asked many questions that forces one to doubt. She decided on Roland Garros as the one she’d put the brakes on not attended conferences. Osaka has emphasized that “…I’m introverted…and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful…”

     The young Japanese had come into the tournament and won the opening round in straight sets against Patricia Tig. She didn’t attend the media conference which more than annoyed the French Open organizers and fans. There was no other choice of penalizing her but imposing a $15,000 fine. But organizers sensed that this wouldn’t be the end-all and other situations had to result, perhaps defaulting her.

     Players had the chance to absorb Osaka’s feelings and many agreed wth her on how it belittles and degrades them resulting in a compromise of their mental health. Victoria Azarenka commented that there were times the media could have been more indulgent to the players’ feelings. While many were on her side, there were others who felt like when they signed a contract on competing and doing promotionals this also covered attending press conferences. Sofia Kenin, the WTA’s no. 5, agreed with the pressures and stress on players but simply replied that “This is what you signed up for. There’s expectations from the outside, sponsors and everyone. You just have to somehow manage it.”

     The heat was upon Naomi Osaka to either revert and decide to change her mind or continue not doing conferences. Former player and member of Eurosport Mats Wilander gave his take on the matter saying it was a “bad move” and “not fair to the other players.” The entire Grand Slam tournaments conferred and felt collectively on doing press conferences as an inegral part of the tournaments. Osaka had no other recourse and decided that she would willfully withdraw from the French Open after her first round. This still doesn’t solve the issue of her doing or not doing press conferences. Questions will arise if this is only meant for Slams? Will she take a break and start to do conferences again?

     Naomi Osaka has nearly opened up a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of what comes next besides from other players but for herself. The Japanese did agree to not participate with any other Slams until she feels more mentally stable to play and attend media meets. The tennis community has so many questions unanswered and as Naomi Osaka goes out of the spotlight and touring for awhile, she has left everyone…speechless.