Naomi Osaka is receiving support from sponsors and professional athletes on her decision to prioritize her mental health. Since announcing her decision not to talk to the press at the French Open; the 23-year-old tennis star has received backlash and a heavy fine. Sports apparel brand Nike, which has sponsored Osaka since 2019, commended the tennis player.
“Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience.” Nike told PEOPLE
Following Nikes’ lead, Mastercard released a statement.
“Naomi Osaka’s decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritize personal health and well-being. We support her and admire her courage to address important issues, both on and off the court.”
Tennis legend Serena Williams also had kind words for Osaka.
“I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like. Like I said, I’ve been in those positions.”
In a press conference after a first-round loss to Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandriva at the French Open,Venus Williams also weighed in on the effects of media scrutiny.
“For me personally, how I cope, how I deal with it, was that I know every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can and never will. So, no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me.”
“That’s how I deal with it,” she continued “But each person deals with it differently.”
Last Wednesday, Osaka shared her experiences with press conferences and how they affect athletes’ mental health.
“Hope you’re doing well, I’m writing this to say I’m not doing any during Roland Garros. I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.” tweeted Osaka.
The four-time Grand Slam winner explained how the press conferences can impede on an athletes’ self-esteem. 5 days later, Osaka dropped out of the Grand Slam event; after being fined $15,000 for not speaking to the media following her first round match on Sunday.
“Hey everyone, this isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the others players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka Tweeted.