Despite coming to dominate the sport of tennis in recent years, the last few months have been a tumultuous ride for Naomi Osaka. After issuing a statement ahead of the French Open that she would decline to do press conferences during the tournament in an effort to champion her own mental health, tournament organisers failed to protect Osaka. Despite her comments coming to be celebrated by fans around the world as they shine a spotlight on the importance of mental health, tournament organisers missed an opportunity to show great leadership and instead issued a fine to Osaka and even threatened her with expulsion from tournaments down the line.
Since she issued her statement via social media, the saga of the French Open escalated dramatically and ultimately saw Osaka pull out of the French Open. She issued a statement about the matter which explained her reasons, suggesting: “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer.” She added, “More importantly I would never trivialise mental health or use that 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.”
Now, it appears the tennis star is continuing to make her own mental health a priority and is doing all she can to protect it, as her agent has now confirmed Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon but has plans to play in the Tokyo Olympics.
A statement from Osaka’s agent read: “Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year. She is taking some personal time with friends and family. She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”
The Olympics are just a few weeks away, commencing on July 23. As a native of Japan, Osaka has become the face of the Tokyo Olympics having been featured in one of the promotional shots and videos for the Games in February of 2020, prior to the Games being rescheduled for a 2021 date as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Should Osaka compete at the Olympics, it will be the first for the four-time Grand Slam champion and there’s no doubt that she will have the support of her home country, as well as her adoring fans around the world.