Naomi Osaka thanks Novak Djokovic and Meghan Markle for support after French Open drama

Naomi Osaka: Pundits discuss French Open withdrawal

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And the Japanese star is now calling for tennis players to be allowed “sick days” from their press commitments without giving an explanation. The four-time Grand Slam winner announced before the claycourt Major that she would not be holding press conferences after her matches.

She was fined and threatened with expulsion from the tournament before she withdrew revealing she had been suffering from depression since 2018.

In an essay for TIME magazine before her appearance at the Tokyo Olympics, the 23-year-old wrote: “I want to thank everyone who supported me.

“There are too many to name, but I want to start with my family and friends, who have been amazing.

“There is nothing more important than those relationships. I also want to thank those in the public eye who have supported, encouraged and offered such kind words. Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, Novak Djokovic, Meghan Markle, to name a few.

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“Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up I may have saved a life. If that’s true, then it was all worth it”

Writing about mental health issues, Osaka echoed the words of the Duchess of Sussex.

“I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms—frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me,” she wrote.

“I also do not want to have to engage in a scrutiny of my personal medical history ever again.


“So I ask the press for some level of privacy and empathy next time we meet I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s ok to not be ok; and it’s ok to talk about it.”

Osaka also pulled out of Wimbledon but aims to return to the WTA Tour after the Olympics and wants changes made.

“Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions,” she suggested.

“In any other line of work, you would be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, so long as it’s not habitual. You wouldn’t have to divulge your most personal symptoms to your employer; there would likely be HR measures protecting at least some level of privacy.

“There can be moments for any of us where we are dealing with issues behind the scenes. Each of us as humans is going through something on some level.

“I have numerous suggestions to offer the tennis hierarchy, but my No. 1 suggestion would be to allow a small number of ‘sick days’ per year where you are excused from your press commitments without having to disclose your personal reasons. I believe this would bring sport in line with the rest of society.”

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