Grand Slam Leaders Pledge to Address Tennis Players' Mental Health Concerns, Commend Naomi Osaka
"We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face," the tennis officials said
Administrators for the elite Grand Slam tennis tournaments say they hope to address athletes' mental health concerns following Naomi Osaka's much-discussed withdrawal from the French Open.
On Tuesday, the four officials who lead the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open voiced their support for the 23-year-old tennis star and pledged to help create a healthier environment for players' mental wellness off the court.
"On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court. She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate," the statement began.
"Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another," the release continued. "We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face."
The officials stressed that players' wellbeing "has always been a priority to the Grand Slams." Moving forward, the leaders said they would work with the athletes, tours, media and the tennis community at large "to advance mental health and wellbeing through further actions."
The statement was signed by Gilles Moretton of the French Tennis Federation, Ian Hewitt of the All England Club, Mike McNulty of the U.S. Tennis Association and Jayne Hrdlicka of Tennis Australia.
On Monday, Osaka announced she was exiting Roland-Garros in Paris after being fined $15,000 for not speaking to the press following her first-round win on Sunday. Before the competition began, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open women's singles champ said she would not be doing press during the tournament in an effort to preserve her mental health.
Opening up about her decision, Osaka said that she has suffered from depression since 2018, and had a "really hard time coping with that."
The tennis phenomenon said that she had been feeling both vulnerable and anxious while in Paris for the French Open, explaining that skipping the mandatory press conferences was best for her "self-care."
"I do feel like the rules are quite outdated in parts and I wanted to highlight that," Osaka added of the press requirements.
Since walking away from the tennis tournament, fellow Grand Slam superstars including Serena Williams, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King have rallied behind Osaka.