Mental Health

Brave New World—Naomi Osaka and others

It is time we stop criticising those who take a moment to prioritise their mental health.

By URLife Team
02 Jun 2021

When the four-time Grand Slam singles champion, Naomi Osaka chose to put her mental health first by refusing to attend a press conference, she ignited the much-needed conversation around depression and self-care, especially for people in sport and black women in general.


Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open, was fined $15,000 for refusing her media obligations. Osaka had been warned of disqualification if she continued with her media boycott. Stating that she did not want to be a distraction, Osaka issued the following statement.



Support has been pouring in from all corners for Osaka, here are some reactions:

Serena Williams’s reaction to Naomi Osaka.

“I feel for Naomi. Not everyone’s the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. Everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to and the best way she thinks she can. That’s the only thing I can say: I think she is doing the best she can,” said Serena Williams to CNN who has stood up for Osaka in the past—booing incident at the US Open in 2018.



Dean Stephens’s reaction to Naomi Osaka

Dean Stephens, Evening Anchor, with ABCnews4, tweeted this video from a 2018 press conference.



Dean Stephens’s


Michelle Wie West’s reaction to Naomi Osaka

“I thought what Naomi did this past week was incredibly brave. I also understand that part of being an athlete is speaking to the media because that’s how the tournaments get done, (it) is through the media coverage,” said golfer, Michelle Wie to Reuters.


Nike’s reaction to Naomi Osaka


Nike too came out in support, stating, “Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience,” said Nike, who are her sponsors.



Martina Navratilova’s reaction to Naomi Osaka


“I am so sad about Naomi Osaka. I truly hope she will be ok. As athletes, we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi- we are all pulling for you!” said Martina Navratilova, American tennis player.



Mats Wilander reaction to Naomi Osaka

The Swedish tennis player on the other hand thought otherwise, he stated, “In Japan, she is absolutely huge, maybe the biggest athlete that any country has ever produced. And they don’t get to hear her talk. So yeah, it’s really a bad move and I love what all the players are saying about it,” quotes Wilander for Eurosport.

While Naomi Osaka isn’t the only one breaking the stigma around mental health, Lizzo and Megan Markle and Prince Harry have been vocal about their struggle.

Lizzo, the rapper, who has spoken about body dysmorphia in the past, shared a video on ticktock where the artist was brutally honest about depression. She said, “You know that part of sadness where you feel like a burden on everyone and annoying and nobody cares about you? Can we get rid of that part? It’s like, ‘Yo, I’m already sad. Got to add insult to injury that I have no one to talk to about it? It’s crazy. Like why do we feel this way? Why do we feel this way when we get sad?”



Healing generational trauma isn’t easy, especially when the world has its eye on you. However, the couple took action and distanced themselves from their Royal duties. In an interview with Oprah, Meghan Markle opened about facing racism—conversations about her child’s skin colour. Prince Harry revealed he felt trapped and was afraid. In his Apple TV+ show, “The Me You Can’t See”, Prince Harry can be seen using bilateral simulation and EMDR or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing. He has spoken about drug abuse, panic attacks, and dealing with anxiety over the death of his mother.




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