, fellow athletes, and even brands are rallying in support of tennis
superstar Naomi Osaka
, who announced on Monday that she will withdraw from the French Open
to focus on her mental health
The 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam champion issued a statement on social media
explaining that she has been suffering from "long bouts of depression" since the U.S. Open in 2018 and has had "a really hard time coping with that." To deal
with her "social anxiety," Osaka shared that she was hoping to "exercise self-care and skip the press conferences."
Osaka stated that she had apologized to French Open officials, but that she would be taking "some time away from the court now," and that "when the time is right, I really want to work
with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press, and fans."
The native of Japan
also stated that withdrawing from the tournament would be “the best thing for the tournament, the other players, and my well-being.”
— NaomiOsaka (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
, which has sponsored Osaka since 2019, issued a statement expressing its support for her decision.
“Our thoughts are with Naomi, and we support and recognize her bravery in sharing her own mental health experience,” the statement read, according to CNN
According to the news
network, Mastercard, another of Osaka's sponsors, has also issued a statement of support.
“Naomi Osaka’s decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritize personal health and well-being,” the company said, adding that “we support her and admire her courage in addressing important issues, both on and off the court.”
, Martina Navratilova, and Billie Jean King
have all come out in support of Osaka.
“Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people
are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That’s all I can say: I think she is doing the best she can,” Williams said in a post-match news conference on Monday.
I am so sorry to hear about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she is okay. As athletes, we are taught to take care of our bodies, but perhaps the mental and emotional aspects are overlooked. This is about more than whether or not to hold a press conference. Good luck, Naomi- we are all rooting for you! — Martina Navratilova (@Martina) May 31, 2021
Naomi Osaka has been extremely brave in disclosing the truth about her depression; right now, the most important thing is that we give her the space
and time she requires, and we wish her well. — Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 31, 2021
Other athletes, including Russell Wilson and Steph Curry
, expressed “major respect” and admiration for Osaka outside of the tennis world.
We stand with you, @naomiosaka #Courage https://t.co/Zo840pPRcJ
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) May 31, 2021
You shouldn't have to make a decision like this-but it's so damn impressive to take the high road when the powers that be don't protect their own. major respect @naomiosaka https://t.co/OcRd95MqCn
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) May 31, 2021
Influential figures such as Bernice King, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
, and a slew of other supporters have continued to show their support:
Imagine if tournament officials had responded to her concerns about her mental health with a caring, "We understand and want you to be well" and "Let's make this space more kind." https://t.co/YJ2T5t7U70
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) May 31, 2021
@naomiosaka, I am so proud of you. https://t.co/ReCg1K33oA
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 31, 2021
Still thinking about Naomi. It takes so much effort and strength to prioritize your wellbeing over your ambition, to prioritize mental health in a culture that denies its importance even as it actively contributes to its destruction. She is leading by example even when she shouldn't have to. — Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe) June 1, 2021
All players should strike in solidarity with Naomi Osaka! It is despicable that sports
sponsors and networks force athletes to speak to the media when it is not their job. They should all boycott the French Open until they rescind her fine and she returns! — Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) June 1, 2021
Consider how the media treats women
who speak out about their mental health, from Naomi Osaka to Meghan Markle
, Princess Diana
to Amy Winehouse, reality TV stars to royalty. The women change, but the desire to humiliate does not. It is deeply rotten, outdated, and in desperate need of reform. — Matt Haig (@matthaig1) June 1, 2021