“I feel for Naomi,” Serena Williams said.
Just a few days after Naomi Osaka took a stand to protect her mental health, the four-time Grand Slam winner has dropped out of the 2021 French Open, also known as Roland Garros. Here's exactly what went down.Naomi Osaka announced she would not participate in press at the French Open.
On May 27, the tennis star explained her decision in an Instagram post, which has since been deleted. “I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland Garros,” she wrote, per Vogue U.K. “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings 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,” the 23-year-old continued, likening questions about losses to “kicking a person while they’re down.”
She added, “I've watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well.”
Venus Williams replied, “Girl, do you. Your life is yours to live!”Osaka was fined $15,000 by all four Grand Slam tournaments.
After making good on her promise not to speak to the press after her first-round win on May 30, all four Grand Slam tournaments—including Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open—released a joint statement.
“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct,” they wrote. “The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.”
Despite that pledge, the organizations insisted that the fine was a matter of fairness to other players. "We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement," read the statement. "As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honor their commitments."
Osaka was also warned that she could face disqualification or even suspension if she continues to avoid the media.On May 31, Osaka dropped out of the tournament.
“Hey everyone, this isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” she began. “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.”
She continued that she “never wanted to be a distraction” and opened up about her years-long battle with depression. “More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that."
"I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world's media," she said in the statement, which was posted to Twitter and Instagram. "I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try and engage and give you the best answers I can."
Osaka added that her choice was an act of self-care and admitted that she spoke out because she found the rules surrounding the press to be outdated. However, she says she still apologized privately to the tournament and said she offered to speak further about her thoughts after the tournament.
“I'm gonna take some time away from the court now, but when the time is right, I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans," she concluded. “Anyways hope you are all doing well and staying safe, love you guys I'll see you when I see you.”Osaka is receiving a ton of support online.
Jameela Jamil is even calling for a boycott of the French Open.
Serena Williams has also voiced her support. "I feel for Naomi. Not everyone is the same. I'm thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That's the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can," she said, per The Associated Press.
Eighteen-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova also spoke out:
And tennis legend Billie Jean King posted, “It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression. Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs. We wish her well.”
Check out some more tweets of support from athletes, below:
This post will be updated as more information arises.
This story originally appeared on: Glamour - Author:Emily Tannenbaum