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Naomi Osaka Discusses Mental Health, Talking with Media Before French Open

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 20, 2022

Robert Prange/Getty Images

Former world No. 1 women's tennis player Naomi Osaka talked about her mental health during a press conference Friday ahead of the 2022 French Open.

Osaka, who withdrew prior to the second round of last year's tournament because of mental health issues, expressed a positive outlook while speaking to the media Friday at Roland Garros, saying: "For the most part, I think I'm OK."

The four-time Grand Slam champion also discussed the nerves involved with talking to reporters, saying:

"I'm not going to lie. When I first came here, I was very worried. I was just kind of worried if there would be people that—of course, I also didn't like how I handled the situation—but I was worried that there were people that I offended some way and I would just kind of bump into them. But I think everyone has been really positive, for the most part. I'm not really so sure. I was also very worried about this press conference, because I knew I'd get a lot of questions about this.

"For me, where I am right now, I wouldn't want to say—it hasn't left my mind. Of course, I'm still thinking about it."

Osaka's uneasiness with speaking to the media is well documented, and it was at the root of her decision to pull out of the French Open last year.

She was fined $15,000 for not speaking to the media after her first-round win and was threatened by Roland Garros and other Grand Slam tournaments with more fines or perhaps even suspension if she continued to avoid the media.

As a result, Osaka withdrew from the tournament while noting that speaking to the media gave her "huge waves of anxiety" and that she "suffered long bouts of depression."

Osaka took an extended mental health break, as she sat out Wimbledon before returning at the U.S. Open and then took another break until the lead-up to this year's Australian Open.

While she hasn't gotten past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament since winning the 2021 Aussie Open, Osaka will look to go on a deep run at Roland Garros.

Doing so won't be easy, though, especially since she has missed some time during the clay-court season due to an Achilles injury.

With Osaka missing so much time over the past year, she is only 38th in the WTA rankings.

That means she will have a difficult path to the French Open final, but since she seems to be in a far better place mentally than at last year's tourney, she has to be considered a threat.

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