Novak Djokovic praises ‘brave’ and ‘daring’ Naomi Osaka for opening up on her struggle with depression


Novak Djokovic praises the ‘brave’ and ‘daring’ Naomi Osaka for opening up to her battle with depression and anxiety, while the world No. 1 says he ‘hopes she comes back stronger’ after withdrawing from the French Open

  • Novak Djokovic praised Naomi Osaka for opening up her fight for mental health
  • Osaka withdrew from the French Open due to ongoing depression and anxiety
  • Djokovic praised Osaka as ‘brave’ and ‘daring’ for speaking out about her struggles
  • The world number 1 said he hopes she comes back stronger after the tournament

Novak Djokovic has praised the “brave” and “daring” Naomi Osaka for opening up about her struggles with depression and anxiety after she withdrew from the French Open.

Osaka had announced prior to the tournament that she would not attend press conferences because they were harmful to her mental health, prompting a strong response from the four Grand Slams.

The world No. 2 then made the decision to retire from the competition after winning her opening match against Patricia Maria Tig, in which she stated she had had “long bouts of depression” since winning the US Open in 2018.

Osaka withdrew from the French Open due to her ongoing battle with depression and anxiety

Novak Djokovic (left) praised ‘brave’ Naomi Osaka (right) for being candid about her struggle with depression and anxiety

The 23-year-old’s second statement received widespread support from inside and outside tennis, with Djokovic praising her decision to speak out.

‘I support her. I think she was very brave to do that,” said Djokovic, who defeated Tennys Sandgren with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory on the occasion of the first-ever men’s night session at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

“I’m really sorry she’s going through painful times and suffering mentally, I’ve heard.

Osaka withdrew from the Grand Slam after winning her opening round match on Sunday

Osaka withdrew from the Grand Slam after winning her opening round match on Sunday

This was, I must say, a very bold decision on her part.

“If she needs time to think and recharge, then she should, and I fully respect that. I hope she comes back stronger.”

Osaka had been threatened with disqualification and a ban from future tournaments if she did not reverse her decision not to honor her media obligations before deciding to withdraw from the tournament at Rolland Garros.

But after the withdrawal of Osaka, another statement from the four Slams took on a different tone.

“On behalf of the grand slams, we would like to offer our support and assistance in every way to Naomi Osaka as she takes the time not to go to court,” the statement read. “She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she sees fit.

“Mental health is a very challenging subject that deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, because what affects one person does not necessarily affect another.

“We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and fears she feels and empathize with the unique pressures tennis players can face.

“While the well-being of players has always been a priority at the grand slams, our intention, together with the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, is to promote mental health and well-being through further action.”

However, they continued to emphasize that justice must be enforced through regulation.

“Together, as a community, we will continue to improve the player experience at our tournaments, including media wise,” the statement said.

“Change must come through the lens of maintaining a level playing field, regardless of rank or status. Sports require rules and regulations to ensure that no player has an unfair advantage over another.

“We plan to work with the players, the tours, the media and the wider tennis community to create meaningful improvements. As grand slams, we want to create the stage for the players to achieve the highest accolades in our sport.”