- Meghan Markle reached out to support Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open to protect her mental health.
- In an essay for Time, Osaka said Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, and Novak Djokovic also offered support.
- Osaka discussed the importance of protecting athlete's mental wellbeing, writing, "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."
This is absolutely lovely: In an essay for Time, Naomi Osaka revealed Meghan, Duchess of Sussex was among those to reach out in support after she withdrew from the French Open to protect her mental health. The tennis icon received unwarranted criticism and a $15,000 fine after saying she wouldn't attend press conferences at the tournament in order to maintain her mental wellbeing; she subsequently pulled out altogether, explaining she'd experienced "long bouts of depression" since 2018 and found press conferences triggered "huge waves of anxiety."
Osaka named Meghan as one of the public figures who "supported, encouraged and offered such kind words" in the wake of her French Open withdrawal. Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, and Novak Djokovic also reached out, she said.
Osaka revealed the "great amount of pressure" she felt to publicly disclose her depression and anxiety, asking the media for "some level of privacy and empathy next time we meet." She shared her hope for "measures to protect athletes, especially the fragile ones," noting, "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."
She went on to propose athletes receive "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."
"Believe it or not, I am naturally introverted and do not court the spotlight," Osaka wrote. "I always try to push myself to speak up for what I believe to be right, but that often comes at a cost of great anxiety. I feel uncomfortable being the spokesperson or face of athlete mental health as it’s still so new to me and I don’t have all the answers."
"I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s O.K. to not be O.K., and it’s O.K. to talk about it. There are people who can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel," she concluded. "Michael Phelps told me that by speaking up I may have saved a life. If that’s true, then it was all worth it."