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Naomi Osaka stunned sports fans in May when she chose to forego press after the game at the French Open. At the time, she cited her mental health as the reason for not subjecting herself to intense press, but was then fined $15,000 for her decision. She eventually withdrew from the Open, but that was just the beginning of a much-needed conversation about how athletes deal with mental health.
Now she tells us why it was so important to her to start the conversation. She said People in an interview published Aug. 25, she was surprised to hear how many other athletes felt the same way. “I never thought of expressing my opinion as something that was difficult,” she said. “I just wanted to express my true feelings and be honest not only with myself, but also with others about struggles. The more open we can all be, the more we can help each other get better.”
After Osaka withdrew from the French Open, she was also from Wimbledon at the time. She appeared at the Tokyo Olympics and her willingness to be open about mental health opened the door for other athletes to do the same. Gymnast Simone Biles famously attended several of her Olympic events for her own mental health, even Osaka thank you to stand up for athletes who are pushed so hard.
“She talks about mental health and I think it’s really important that athletes put their mental health first because ultimately that’s going to determine how well we go out and compete in any sport.” that is,” Biles told Entertainment tonight mid-August.
Now that the conversation has started, it seems that mental health will be more prominent in the training of athletes. While their physical well-being is important to their sport, so is their mental well-being.