Naomi Osaka Says Djokovic, Stephen Curry Offered Support After French Open Withdrawal

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 8, 2021

Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates after defeating Romania's Patricia Maria Tig during their first round match of the French open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Sunday, May 30, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Naomi Osaka received support from a wide variety of sources over the past few weeks after pulling out of the French Open to take care of her mental health, as she noted in an essay for Time.

"I also want to thank those in the public eye who have supported, encouraged and offered such kind words," Osaka wrote. "Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, Novak Djokovic, Meghan Markle, to name a few."

The tennis star was the No. 2 seed at the French Open but announced she would not do press conferences during the tournament because speaking to the media was causing her anxiety. After receiving a $15,000 fine, Osaka pulled out of the tournament and hasn't played since, also missing Wimbledon.

In her statement when pulling out of the French Open, Osaka noted her stress and anxiety while hoping skipping press conferences would be a way to "exercise self-care."

NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ @naomiosaka

<a href="https://t.co/LN2ANnoAYD">pic.twitter.com/LN2ANnoAYD</a>

The essay for Time noted how different the situation is compared to other jobs.

"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," Osaka said. "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."

Though Osaka has faced criticism for her decisions, it's clear she also has plenty of support from those who know what it is like to be in the spotlight.

Novak Djokovic, Michael Phelps and Stephen Curry are all athletes who have faced scrutiny in press conferences and know the challenges of speaking up after poor performances. Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle each know the perspective of handling the spotlight as women of color.

This type of support could be beneficial as Osaka looks to return to the court at the Tokyo Olympics.