Since deciding to withdraw from the French Open, Naomi Osaka has been reeling in a lot of support from fans, celebrities, and other pro athletes. Now it looks like even the Grand Slam tournaments have changed their tune since the French Open tournament referee fined her on Sunday.
On May 26, Osaka announced that she would not participate in the mandatory press conferences at the 2021 French Open, due to the lack of “regard for athletes’ mental health.” She also added in her statement, “I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
After Osaka skipped the mandatory post-match news conference that followed her first-round victory on Sunday, May 30, over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig, the French Open, Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the U.S. Open responded that day with a joint statement. It said that they unsuccessfully tried to reach Osaka “to check on her well-being and offer support” while also reminding her “of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.” It also revealed that because of Osaka’s absence, she would be receiving her first fine of $15,000.
That decision prompted Osaka to make another social media announcement on May 31, where she revealed that she was withdrawing from the French Open. On Tuesday, June 1, the Grand Slam tournaments released another statement that was in complete support of the 23-year-old.
It said, “On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court. She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate.” The statement continued, “Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another. We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face.”
Toward the end of the announcement, the Grand Slam officials said they would “intend to work alongside the players, the tours, the media, and the broader tennis community to create meaningful improvement.”
Osaka has not responded to the statement as of yet, however, meditation app Calm has announced that they will pay the fines for tennis players who also want to skip out on press conferences due to mental health.
They also revealed that they donated $15,000 to an organization in France that “transform the lives of young people through the power of sport.”