Tom Brady Issues Support for Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles; Talks Mental Health

Adam WellsSeptember 7, 2021

Simone Biles, from the United States, competes in the balance beam final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Tuesday, August 3, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is speaking out in support of Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, who recently put a spotlight on prioritizing their mental health.

Speaking to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, Brady opened up about the pressure that's put on athletes at such a young age:

“I think there are so many young people in sports. Obviously, Naomi’s really young. Simone's really young. I'm 44. When I was 24, I certainly didn't have all the answers to all the different pressures and the adversities that you face. I don't know if we have expectations for people that we should have all the answers, have all things figured out at young ages.

Brady also discussed the additional pressures "that are thrust upon you when you have a degree of success."

"Things in your family dynamics change," he said. "You're still learning and growing. You're going through a lot at 21, 22, 23, 24, just as a human being. And now you're dealing with it on the world stage."

Brady noted that Biles and Osaka have "different psychological challenges" because they play individual sports, whereas he can fall back on his teammates to help out during games.

"That’s just a blessing about playing team sports," he said. "I admire the people that can deal with them individually, and it's definitely a challenge.”

Biles advanced through the prelims and qualified for six finals at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. She wrote in a July 26 post on Instagram about feeling "like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times."

The following day, Biles withdrew from the team final and was unsure about competing in the other events.

"I just don't trust myself as much as I used to," Biles told reporters in Tokyo. "I'm a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I'm also not having as much fun."

Biles would go on to pull out of the individual all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor routine. The 24-year-old did return to competition in the balance beam, where she won the bronze medal for the second consecutive time at the Olympics.

Osaka, meanwhile, indicated she may take an extended break from tennis following her third-round loss at the U.S. Open to Leylah Annie Fernandez on Friday night.

"I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match," Osaka told reporters with tears in her eyes. "I think I'm gonna take a break from playing for a while."

She also explained that winning matches only feels "more like a relief" and that losing makes her "feel very sad."

"I don't think that's normal," Osaka said.

Earlier this year, Osaka took nearly two months off to focus on her mental health. The 23-year-old withdrew from the French Open prior to her second-round match against Ana Bogdan. 

That decision came after Osaka announced she wasn't going to participate in post-match press conferences at Roland Garros.

"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health, and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one," she wrote. "We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds, and I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."

A joint statement from tennis' four Grand Slam tournaments announced Osaka received a letter from them to offer support for her mental well-being, but she was also being fined $15,000 for skipping a press conference that violated Article III H. of the Code of Conduct.

Osaka returned to the court in Tokyo for the 2020 Games, where she was the final torchbearer to carry the Olympic flame. She also took part in the Western & Southern Open last month prior to the U.S. Open.