Deeper than the media

Naomi Osaka turned heads last week after announcing she would not be speaking to the media during the French Open as a way to focus on her mental health. Little did we know things were just getting started. A few days after her original announcement and following her victory in the first round, she received fines for skipping her post-game press conference and announced she is withdrawing from the tournament.

Although there are many opinions about these decisions, it’s opening up a conversation that has been rising to the top of the sports world. From Abby Wambach to Kevin Love, the mental health of athletes is becoming equally important, if not more, than their physical health. Whether you believe Naomi is brave for withdrawing from the tournament to focus on her well-being or you believe talking to the media is a part of the job, her decisions over the last week have certainly put a spotlight on potentially outdated gaps in the system.

And the children are watching. With companies like Slumberkins helping children identify and support their emotions and books like Wolfpack (Young Readers Edition) by Abby Wambach helping the next generation find their voice, children and young adults are much more aware of the importance of mental health — as it relates to them and their favorite athletes.

This isn’t the first time that Naomi has withdrawn from a tournament for an important issue that requires attention. In August 2020, Naomi announced she wouldn’t be playing in the Western and Southern Open semifinal match in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Let’s hope it’s not the last time she advocates for herself and others.

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