June 18, 2021

“It makes me anxious to talk to the media”


This week has started one of the considered four great tournaments of the tennis circuit, the Grand Slam of Roland Garros in Paris. Over the next two weeks, the best tennis players in the world will compete for the trophy in the women’s, men’s and doubles categories to see who dominates in the most important competition on the clay surface. Last Wednesday May 26, the current number 2 in the world, Naomi osaka, announced through his Twitter account that he would not hold press conferences.


The 'me too' of mental health: patients break stigma and demand more resources

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“Hello everyone. I hope you are doing well. I am writing this to say that I will not give any press conferences during Roland Garros. I feel very often that people do not attach much importance to the mental health of athletes and this it becomes visible every time I see a press conference or attend one. Often we sit down and there are questions that we have been asked multiple times before or they ask us some that make us doubt ourselves and I just don’t want to submit to people who ask me. It raises doubts. I have seen many videos of athletes breaking down after a loss in a press conference and I know that you have too. I think that this whole situation of pressuring a person when they are in a low mood and I don’t understand the underlying reasoning. No Doing press conferences is not something personal in my case against the tournament and there are several journalists who have interviewed me since I was young and I have a friendly relationship with most of them. However, if the organizations they think they can keep saying ‘hold the press conference or you will be sanctioned’ and they continue to ignore the athletes’ mental health as a central part of this cooperation, I’ll just have to laugh. In any case, I just hope that the amount for which I am sanctioned goes directly to charitable organizations that work with mental health. Kisses, “the Japanese tennis player said in her statement.

The television presenter Ellen Degeneres showed his support to this message through Twitter saying “I send you a lot of love and support.” The former Australian tennis player, winner of six Grand Slams in women’s doubles and current journalist Rennae stubbs also she was understanding: “This move by Naomi is a great opportunity for the media to LISTEN to the players and understand how hard it is for them to do better.” However, the Roland Garros Tournament decided to fine her $ 15,000 and threaten to kick her out of the tournament.

On the statement issued by the French tournament made reference to Osaka’s breach of its contractual obligations to the tournament and mentioned the issue of mental health: “The mental health of the players in competition in our tournaments is a very important issue. Individually and collectively, significant resources are devoted to it. well-being of the players. However, we need the commitment of the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experience. ”

The official position was supported by players like Rafael Nadal or Garbiñe Muguruza, who respect and understand Osaka but don’t consider it a good idea to ignore the press. “I understand his position, but I think that without the press that travels and writes about what we do, we would not have the recognition that we have around the world. The media are very important in sport,” Nadal said. “I consider that my responsibility is to hold press conferences. I think we need the media, even if it is hard sometimes and you feel bad. You have to count on them for good and bad,” explained the Spanish-Venezuelan player.

They were not the only ones, the extenista and habitual television commentator Thomas Carbonell also wrote on Twitter: “Naomi Osaka. When you started in your career, did you refuse interviews to make yourself known? Are you so special that what you do on the court is enough? Tennis belongs to who lives it, who plays it and above all, whose pay to see you and know what you think after the games. ” Hours later, he wrote another two messages qualifying (1 Y two): “If Osaka has depression and anxiety problems, let it be treated and I hope she recovers as soon as possible”, even if it was something that Osaka herself had already made clear before.

Yesterday the news broke: Naomi Osaka announced again on her Twitter account that she was leaving the tournament.

“I think the best thing for the tournament, the rest of the players and my own well-being is to leave it so that everyone can get back to concentrating on tennis. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that he timing chosen was not the ideal and that my message could be clearer, “Osaka shared being self-critical. Then he added:” I would not like to trivialize with mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is, I’ve suffered from long periods of depression since the 2018 US Open and I really spent it dealing with this. ”

Osaka not only openly shares her mental health problems but also points to the relationship between the media and these: “Anyone who knows me knows that I am an introvert and anyone who has seen me at tournaments will have noticed that I wear headphones to calm my social anxiety. While the press has always been kind to me (and I want to apologize to all the journalists I may have hurt), I am not a public speaking person and I always have waves of anxiety before speaking to the media I get very nervous and stressed out trying to give the best answers I can. In Paris I was feeling vulnerable and anxious and I thought the best self-care exercise was to avoid press conferences. I announced it preemptively because I feel that the rules are a little too tight. little out of date in some things and I wanted to point that out.

Osaka ended his statement by announcing that he is leaving the courts for a season and encouraging organizations involved in tennis to discuss these issues. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “Proud of you”. The young promise of American tennis, Coco gauff, commented supporting his partner on Twitter: “Stay strong ❤️. I admire your vulnerability.” British actress and TV presenter Jameela jamil also I sent him support and ironic: “Imagine penalizing someone for having anxiety … in 2021.”

The president of the French Tennis Federation and organizer of Roland Garrós read a statement upon hearing the news: “First of all, we are sorry and saddened for Naomi Osaka. Her withdrawal from Roland Garros is a regrettable result. We wish her the best and the fastest possible recovery, and we hope to see her again at our tournament next year.”

The former tennis player and television commentator, Alex Corretja, remembered in Eurosport something that seems obvious: the media is not only the media: “This is shocking. It is really sad to hear that Naomi has had to leave the tournament because of this situation. It is something we have to talk about and it is very serious. I feel sorry for her Surely the situation got out of hand. Nowadays and with social networks you can feel that everyone is talking about you and that can be very stressful. ”

Journalist Enrico Maria I made a Twitter thread explaining how the press conferences of the big tennis tournaments tend to be and telling a most illustrative anecdote about one of the hardest and longest finals in memory: “When Roddick lost the Wimbledon final against Federer in 2009, we were like Max seven people in that newsroom. Andy Roddick’s face is the saddest I’ve ever seen and yet he still tried to grapple with the few questions he was asked. I will never forget Bud Collins raising his voice and saying: Free this man”.

Naomi Osaka is not only known for playing tennis. On many occasions she has been active in the anti-racist fight of Black Lives Matter and she has put her condition as a black woman at the center every time she has seen fit to make a social or political complaint.

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